Spot the Signs of Common Payment Scams

Millions of Americans use peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo to send money to friends and family. Just as a check can be stolen from the mail or a package taken from your doorstep, scammers are looking to take advantage of people shopping or sending money online. It’s more important than ever to spot the signs of common scams and protect your money and personal information.

Learn About Common Scams
  • Pet Deposit Scam: Scammers know that cute puppy picture will pull at your heartstrings and then your purse strings. Pet deposit scams are simple: scammers request a deposit in advance, usually through an online marketplace or through social media to secure a pet. Scammers trick you by advertising highly sought-after animals at an extremely low price. They’ll even post fake (but really cute) photos and will avoid communicating over the phone at any cost. If you’re in the market for a new pet this holiday season, make sure you verify the seller, avoid making an advance payment, and pay after you’ve received your new furry friend.
  • Charity Scam: There’s nothing like getting into the holiday spirit of giving by donating to your favorite cause. Charity scammers may solicit for donations in a variety of ways – in person, on the phone, by mail, email or through social media. Even if the charity has a website, it could be fake. Before you contribute, check the background of the charity to ensure the donations are going to the right place. Don’t let scammers get in the way of your holiday giving.
  • Gift Card Scam: Plain and simple: if someone is asking you to pay them with a gift card, it’s likely a scam. Gift cards are like money – once used, the money on it is gone, and you can’t get it back. A gift card scammer will tell you it’s urgent (act quick!), tell you what gift card to buy (and where to go to buy it), and ask for the gift card number and pin. Save the gift card purchases for your friends and family this holiday season and avoid getting them into the hands of scammers.
  • Invoicing Scam: Scammers will send phony invoices that look very real, hoping you will pay up because they want access to your personal and financial information. Be wary of any messages that pressure you into quickly paying to resolve an “issue” on your account. If you receive a suspicious invoice, don’t pay it – and don’t call any phone numbers or open any links associated with the invoice note. They could be attempts to steal your information.
  • Phishing Scam: Phishing scams are “fishing” for your private information. First, they try to “bait” you in by getting you to complete an action – like opening an attachment or clicking on a link. They then “reel you in” by successfully getting you to provide private personal and financial information. Scammers may use a variety of methods to contact you – social media, email, phone, and text message – and could even appear legitimate. If you receive a request that could be phishing, it’s best to avoid taking any action until you can verify the sender.
  • Imposter Scam: Scammers might try to steal your data or access your accounts by pretending to be someone else. If someone claiming to work for a peer-to-peer payment asks for your sensitive login information or a login code, they are probably a scammer. Never provide detailed personal information over the phone, email, social media, text messages, or other channels to someone claiming to work for customer support. If you think you are the target of a potential imposter scam, you should contact Customer Support directly through verified support channels on the Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal pages.

Here’s How You Can Be Smarter Than Scams

Protect Your Personal Information

Scammers will try to steal your personal information to access your email, banking, and payment accounts. Protect yourself with these simple but powerful steps:

  • Do not share your personal information, social security number or login information with anyone.
  • Keep your information up-to-date. Remove any old email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Keep any sign-in codes or “magic links” sent to your phone or email private.
  • Use different passwords across your email and banking accounts, and make sure to update your password regularly.
  • Don’t click links in unsolicited emails or text messages.

Be Aware of Account Activity

Scammers are counting on you to drop your defenses. But keeping your account scam-aware will shut them down. To better secure your account:

  • Turn on two-factor authentication.
  • Turn on notifications to receive account alerts
  • Stay alert for new device logins and respond to them quickly if any of them aren’t you.
  • If you sign into accounts on a device other than your personal device, make sure to sign out.
  • Regularly check your account statements for any payments that look out of place.

Pause Before You Pay

In general, if something sounds too good to be true (like free money in exchange for a small payment), it’s probably a scam. Scammers may try to impersonate people or companies you know and want your money fast. Before you press pay:

  • Only send money to people you know and trust.
  • Double check unexpected requests for money, even if it is from someone you know.
  • Verify and double-check all recipient information.
  • If someone is promising to deliver you something at a later date, it could be a scam.

Steps Peer-to-Peer Payment Apps Have Taken to Protect You

We’re working to outsmart scams with the following in-app and security features:

  • Cutting-edge technology: Fraud detection technology protects your account information and monitors your account activity to help identify unauthorized transactions.
  • Two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication is a security process that requires two different authentication factors for verification. It provides a higher level of security making it harder for scammers to gain access to your account.
  • User experience controls: These controls allow you to block or report suspicious users which can help protect your account and help protect others.

Courtesy of the Financial Technology Association