Mobile payment apps – such as Venmo, Zelle, Cash App and others – allow you to link your bank account and/or credit card to the payment app so that you can quickly and conveniently send and receive money with your smartphone. However, once a payment has been sent via the app, it is very hard, if not impossible, to get your money back if you change your mind. For this reason, scammers often try to use mobile payment apps to steal money from consumers. The scammers may do this by impersonating a government agency or well-known business. Sometimes they impersonate a relative of yours and ask you to send money for an emergency. Con artists posing as a representative from your bank may tell you there’s been fraudulent activity on your account and ask you to send money to yourself or to “the bank’s address.” Fraudsters have also been known to post fake listings for merchandise on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or CraigsList, where you’ll end up paying for an item that you never receive.
To avoid these types of scams, you should never send money via a mobile payment app to:
- Anyone claiming to be with a government organization or law enforcement agency
- Anyone saying you need to send money in order to claim a prize
- Anyone who tells you your account has been compromised
- Anyone asking you to send money to yourself
- Unverified cryptocurrency sites
Additional tips to avoid mobile app scams:
- Only send money via a mobile app to people you know and trust.
- Never share your login credentials (user name, password, PIN).
- Protect your account with multi-factor authentication or a PIN.
- If you get an unusual or unexpected request for money from someone you know, speak with them first to make sure the request really is from them — and not a hacker who got access to their account.
- If you believe your account has been compromised, immediately change your login credentials and contact your bank and/or mobile payment app company.
If you discover unauthorized payments or think you sent money to a scammer via a mobile payment app, here’s how to report it:
- Cash App - Cash App recommends chatting through their app for the fastest service. To do so, open the app, go to your profile, and choose Support. You can also get help through cash.app/help or by calling 1 (800) 969-1940.
- Venmo - Venmo recommends chatting through their app for the fastest service. To do so, open the app, go to your profile, and choose Get Help. You can also email Venmo through their contact form or call them at 1 (855) 812-4430.
- Zelle - Contact your bank or credit union immediately to report a scam. If you are enrolled through the Zelle app, you can call 1-844-428-8542 or use their online contact form.
- PayPal - Report it online through PayPal’s Resolution Center or call PayPal at 1 (888) 221-1161.
Report It to the FTC
If you paid a scammer with a mobile payment app, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.