SAN ANTONIO – Cash may be king, but many people don’t carry it much any longer. They use peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App, PayPal, Zelle and Venmo. But what happens if something goes wrong?
Once you’ve sent it, you’ve spent it. That’s what may electronic payment apps tell their users. Peer-to-peer payment apps are fast and convenient, but Consumer Reports warns that the lack of protections can make them attractive to fraudsters and risky for consumers.
“The main risk in using a P2P app is that you have no recourse in getting your money back if you send money to a scammer or to the wrong person or if you send the wrong amount because of a typo,” said Consumer Reports’ Octavio Blanco.
Last year along, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 70,000 reports of fraud with $130 million in losses from payment app use.
Mobile payment apps are under fire from consumer advocates demanding protection from fraud and user mistakes. For now, here is one way to protect your payments.
“Link your credit card to the app and fund your payments through the credit card,” Blanco said.
That way, you could get the same purchase protections that your credit card offers. It may not be free, though. Many apps charge about three percent when you use a credit card.
If you want to keep your P2P app linked to your bank account, Blanco offers a word of caution.
“If you are going to be using your P2P account for things like sending money to people you don’t know, you really have to be very careful because you have no way if something goes wrong to get that money back and that could be very costly,” he said.
Cash App, Paypal, Venmo and Zelle all say keeping users informed and educated and protecting them from fraud are top priorities. Their complete company statements are below:
Preventing fraud is critically important to Cash App. We continue to invest in and bolster fraud-fighting resources by increasing staffing, educating our customers, and adopting new technology. We are constantly improving systems and controls to help prevent, detect, and report bad activity on the platform.
The security of PayPal and Venmo users and their account information is a top priority and we take all the necessary steps to protect our customers. We’ve always made preventing bad actors from using our platform a top company priority. We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent activity, and our teams are working tirelessly to protect customers against anyone attempting to defraud well-intentioned individuals.
Zelle® and its participating financial institutions monitor payment activity on the network 24/7 for suspicious activity and to help proactively protect consumers. If a consumer believes they have fallen victim to a scam, they are encouraged to contact their bank, credit union or Zelle immediately. We believe that the best protection is prevention and we offer educational resources on how to effectively use Zelle and how to spot potential fraudsters and scammers.
Consumer Reports details the following instructions for linking your credit card to your P2P Account:
From a Mac or an iPad: Open “Wallet” settings on your device.
- On your Mac model with Touch ID, go to System Preferences >> Wallet & Apple Pay.
- On your iPad, go to Settings >> Wallet & Apple Pay.
Tap Add Card >> Follow on-screen directions to add a card. >> Verify your information with your bank or card issuer, who may require more information.
From an iPhone: Open the “Wallet” app, tap the “plus” button. >> Tap “Debit or Credit Card.” >> Tap “Continue.” >> Follow the steps on the screen to add a new card. If prompted, choose your bank or card issuer from the list or find them using the search bar. >> Verify your information with your bank or card issuer, which may require more information or may ask you to download an app before approving your card. >> If you have a paired Apple Watch, you have the option to also add the card to your watch.
From a computer: Not possible.
From a smartphone: Open Cash App. >> Tap the “Profile” icon in the top right corner of the Cash App home screen. >> Then under options, tap “Linked Banks.” >>Tap “Link Credit Card” and enter the requested information. >> Then tap “Add Card” and the card will be on file.
From a computer: From the PayPal home page, log in to your account. >> Then click “wallet” at the top of the page. >> Then, on left side of the page, click “Link a debit or credit card.” >> Then follow the instructions on the page to link your card.
From a smartphone: Log in to your account. >> Tap “wallet.” >> Then tap the plus symbol (+) to the right of “Banks and Cards.” >> Tap Debit and Credit Cards. >> Then link your card manually or connect your PayPal account to your bank.
From a computer: From the Venmo home page, click “Edit payment methods.” >> Then click on “Add Debit or Credit Card” and add your card information.
From a smartphone: Open the Venmo app >> Go to the “You” tab by selecting the single person icon. >> Tap the Settings gear in the top right, then tap “Payment Methods.” >> Tap “Add bank or card,” then tap “Card.” >> Add your card information manually or with your phone’s camera.