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Looking out for scams when using mobile pay apps

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 18:25:01-04

TULSA, Okla. — Peer-to-peer payment apps are becoming more popular, maybe to pay a co-worker for lunch, or send money to a friend.

However, one victim, who asked us to call her Wendy, to protect her identity, says she's as careful as can be, yet lost hundreds of dollars to a scammer.

"We were rushing to get ready to go on a trip, when I got a phone call from my bank, at least caller ID said it was my bank," she says. "I was told someone was fraudulently using my Venmo account to hack my bank account. I use Venmo a lot, so I answered some of their questions. I'm ashamed to say scammers used that information to pay themselves $1,500 with a Venmo transfer."

"A great way, for scammers, is to try to get you to send money to them thru Venmo or PayPal or Zelle, because that's just like writing a check to the criminal," says University of Tulsa Professor Tyler Moore, a cyber security expert.

Sometimes, those criminals will hack a friend's account first, and use that information to bait you.

"The hook comes from someone you know because their account has been compromised," Moore says.

That hacked friend's information can give scammers your info, which can lead to fake emails, texts, or social media messages, used to cheat you out of money, sometimes, a lot of money.

To protect yourself when using money transfer apps, only use them to pay people you know personally, and only after double-checking with them first.

  • Enable additional security settings, such as multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN number, or fingerprint recognition
  • Link the transfer app to a credit card, which provides more fraud protection
  • Check the account after making a transfer, to make sure it went through
  • And be sure to have the right number for the company's customer service department, in case you ever need help quickly.
  • Get the number directly from their website, not by searching online.
  • Remember, cyber scammers can spoof that number too, which could lead to even more expensive rip-offs
  • Another important reminder, only use those peer-to-peer money apps for personal purposes.
  • Most of those apps' terms of service don't allow commercial use, such as paying for goods or services.
  • If an online business insists on using one of those apps, the Better Business Bureau says it can be a warning sign of a scam.

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