June 4, 2022
How thieves target mobile payment applications: Venmo and Cash App
TAMPA, FLORIDA (WFLA) – Your phone is a portal to your funds for anyone who utilizes mobile payment programmed such as Cash App, Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle. Touchless payment alternatives grew in popularity as the coronavirus pandemic spread. These applications make it easier than ever to transfer or receive money.
However, mobile payment applications have also become a haven for criminals. “It’s simpler to simply say, ‘Oh sure, put my phone number into this app, and you can just send it there”. Frank Wood explained to 8 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken. Wood has no problems utilizing mobile payment applications for years. Then one day, he awoke to discover his Cash App account completely depleted.
“The first one was right there, $212, [then] $206, $206, $298.88,” Wood added, holding up his phone to illustrate the transactions. “I even spotted them when they were still pending, so they didn’t completely go through. And they said, ‘Oh, contact Target, they can handle it’. When I phoned Target, they said, ‘No, we can’t.’ He isn’t alone. Complaints to federal regulators concerning mobile payment applications have increased by 300 percent over the previous year.
Connecting your bank account to mobile payment app like Cash App, Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle on your phone allows you to immediately pay a bill or even pay a buddy your share of supper. The immediate aspect is what entices criminals, according to Cyber Florida’s Tony Urbanovich. According to him, the plan frequently begins with seemingly innocuous text messages about a product arrival or a bank notice — something to pique your interest. “If it even looks like anything that, you know, doesn’t make sense, contact your bank or call your institution,” he said.
Spy virus might be downloaded into your phone once you click.
- “They effectively have complete control over your phone,” stated Urbanovich. With such power, the fraudsters can send money anywhere they choose. And that is what makes this a successful crime. When you file a complaint with the app company, it seems like you performed the transfer.
- According to US PIRG’s Senior Director of Federal Consumer Programs Ed Mierzwinski, the fraud is “encouraged by the poor quality of customer support given by these applications.”
- According to Mierzwinski, there is a loophole in the statute that states they do not owe you money if you begin the transaction.
- Mierzwinski believes that legislators must compel app providers to investigate problems even when the customer committed the mistake or transferred the money — and to safeguard consumers when they are duped into transferring money.
Security experts recommend the following precautions to keep your money safe:
- Send money only to individuals you know and trust, and check their login before clicking the “pay” button.
- Be wary of any request for money that you did not expect.
- Make sure your privacy settings are set”private.”
PIRG offers the following ideas:
Treat money in your P2P app as if it were cash. Only use it with friends and those you know and trust.
Maintain a separate bank account to link to P2P accounts if at all possible. Do not link your P2P accounts to all of your cash.
- If you are sending money to a specific person for the first time using a P2P payment app, even if you know the person, you should either send $1 as a test or ask the individual to make a request for the money. Many accounts use generic names, such as BobSmith02.
- The accounts can contain photographs, but the photos are so tiny that it’s impossible to verify if it’s the right individual.
- As for Wood, he doesn’t know how crooks accessed his money and says pleas for help to Cash App ended when customer service abruptly said his issue was resolved. Which he claims was not the case.
- “Seeing it was what really confirmed, ‘Wow, you people aren’t going to assist me,” Wood said.
- When investigator Shannon Behnken brought this problem to Cash App’s notice, the firm investigated further. Wood awoke to discover that every cent had been returned to his account.
- “I can’t thank you guys enough for making a real difference and going to bat for me,” Wood added.
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