Applications like PayPal and Venmo offer the convenience of sending money electronically. Instead of the old “I’ll pay you back,” we can now say “I’ll send it to you.” The ability to pay your friend, coworker or family member immediately is awesome, right?
The problem is, these apps offer convenience, but with one convenience often times there’s another huge inconvenience - scammers. Since your bank account and payment card are linked to these electronic payment apps, this opens up a new way for scammers to get crafty in stealing your money and information.
These scams can deplete your bank account, causing a huge hassle and unwanted stress. To protect yourself from the headache, here are a few things to note when utilizing those apps.
We’re all familiar with selling items online and with the addition of these electronic payment apps, it’s made the process much easier. Now, we don’t want to scare you into closing your accounts with these apps or to stop selling items online, but being aware of some of the scams can help keep your information safe.
Be aware when selling online of a scam where you, the seller, receives an email stating the payment has posted. We rarely think twice in these instances. We’ve listed a product, someone purchased the product, PayPal, for example, sends us an email notifying you of the purchase. While this is the norm for most online selling platforms, take that email with a grain of salt. Scammers set up fake emails that seem real, prompting you to send the goods to them for free since the payment was never sent. A good rule of thumb is to check your bank account to confirm the payment has been sent. Never send goods before double-checking!
Scams That Affect Buyers
It’s important to note the few ways to send money in these apps. If you are sending money to someone you trust - family or friends, you would use the “Friends and Family” option. If you are selling your vintage band t-shirt to someone you don’t know, it would be wise to select “Goods and Services”.
If you’re in a situation where a seller requests you send a payment as Friends and Family, it’s okay to reject the payment and inform the seller that you will only make the payment as a Goods and Service transaction. One reason a seller may request the payment come from Friends and Family is to avoid paying the transaction fee from the business, or Goods and Service option. Since certain electronic payment apps offer no protection over transactions sent via the Friends and Family option, you could be setting yourself up to be scammed. If the seller decides to keep the goods, you cannot dispute the payment. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the protection policies so you can avoid scams.
If You’re Unsure, Don’t Click
Phishing scams happen all the time - a scammer sends an email attached with a link or attachment that contains malware or spam. By not clicking on these emails, we are keeping our finances safe as well as our personal information. But what about emails that come from PayPal or Venmo? You use the app regularly, so it may seem like no big deal when one of those companies emails and prompts you to provide your login information so that your “account doesn’t deactivate.”
It’s worth noting, PayPal, Venmo or virtually any company will never ask for personal information via email. If you receive an email that contains links and you are not sure if it’s real or not, simply hover over the link and the true destination will pop up.
Monitor Statements Often
It’s suggested to link only one credit card or checking account to your electronic payment apps. This makes it easier to monitor one statement so you can keep up with your purchases and dispute any you are unaware of.
It’s also worth mentioning to never save passwords on websites, no matter how secure they may seem or how easy it is to checkout when your information autofills. This is especially important if you often shop online on numerous sites. Again, with convenience comes a larger inconvenience.
While technology is becoming more advanced, so are the scammers. Protect your accounts by taking precautions when using electronic payment apps.
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