Cash app scams: How to protect yourself

Better Business Bureau warns of scams on peer-to-peer apps

Cash app scams: How to protect yourself
Cash app scams: How to protect yourself

Apps like Venmo, CashApp and Zelle make paying friends and family back easy, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is seeing scams with these peer-to-peer apps.

The BBB is warning people should only the P2P apps to send money to people they know. And always double check the profile of the person you are sending money too before actually hitting the second button.

“Peer-to-peer apps allow us to pay a friend, or pay a colleague for a service or product, but how you set them up and making sure that who you’re sending the money to is accurate,” said Melanie Duquesnel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving eastern Michigan.

Duquesnel said she might have made a costly mistake had she not done that one time she was sending money to her son.

“Thankfully I was like, I don’t think this is right, so I called my son to verify that I was wrong,” she said. “When you create that persona in a Zelle or a Venmo or Cash app, know exactly, make sure the characters are perfect before you hit that send, send the money in app.”

The BBB says if you send money through one of these apps using a credit card, you could solicit your credit card company for help. However, Duquesnel said credit card companies are generally looking at when you make a mistake when buying a product or service, not when you send money to a family member.   Duquesnel also recommends knowing how your bank would handle a mistake or a problem sending or receiving money through a P2P app.

If you send money by mistake it is unlikely you will get the money back, and unfortunately scam artists know that as well.

“We are seeing an increase in scams being perpetrated through a P2P app. So we need to be very, very aware,” Duquesnel said. “Let’s say, let’s flip it. Let’s say Zelle sends you something saying ‘Hey you got money, and for whatever reason you don’t have an account, it came through as an email or a text but you have no cell account.’ Red flag. Additionally, if you do not have any relationship with that other with the sender of that money and they’re asking you to click a link, you have the opportunity, you’ve opened the doors for malware or they may go on to ask you for personal information, so know what you’re clicking on always.”

Consumer Reports says you can protect yourself from fraud by doing the following:

  • Only sending money to people you know.
  • Don’t use peer-to-peer apps for business purposes.
  • Search the app for its customer service contact information and procedures.  That way you will know what options you have if you need help.
  • Also keep your app up to date so you get the latest software security patches.
  • And lastly, if something happens, file a complaint.  Consumer Reports says companies including Venmo and Zelle’s operator are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and must respond to complaints.

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.