Peer-to-peer mobile payment apps poses risk for users

While peer-to-peer mobile payment apps like Venmo and Zele are convenient, they come with risks, Consumer Reports said.

Consumer Reports said these companies need to do more to protect users’ privacy and fraud.

“Peer-to-peer payment apps are a convenient and easy way to send money to others with just a few taps on your phone,” said Delicia Hand, director of financial fairness for Consumer Reports. “But consumers can lose money if they send payments to the wrong person or fall victim to fraud or scams and put their privacy at risk when using a P2P payment app.”

A 2022 survey found that 64 percent have used these types of apps, with at least two in five using them monthly.

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According to Consumer Reports, 12 percent of those who use the app have sent money to the wrong person and 9 percent have been scammed.

Consumer Reports said the app will not refund consumers who send money to the wrong person, nor will it compensate users who are victims of scams.

The group also says that these mobile apps collect large amounts of users’ data and make it difficult to delete users.

Consumer Reports released The following recommendations for users of these apps:

  • Confirm the recipient’s identity before sending money. Do that with a phone number, email address, or QR code. Cash apps, Venmo and Zelle give users the ability to scan a QR code that appears on the recipient’s device.
  • Send a $1 test payment and confirm it was received by the correct person. This is especially important if you are sending a lot of money.
  • Transfer money from your P2P account to your bank account as soon as possible. This ensures that your funds are FDIC insured at your bank.
  • Turn on all the identity verification options available in the P2P app. With those features activated, anyone trying to use the account must go through additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication.
  • Monitor your P2P accounts frequently. You may be able to catch problems early enough to report them to companies and not be on the hook for unauthorized payments.
  • Delete any P2P apps you don’t use. It is not enough to simply remove the application from your phone; Instead, select the “Delete Account” option within the app, to ensure you close and delete the account.
  • Opt out of binding arbitration if possible. Cash App, Venmo and Zelle give users 30 days to opt out of the requirement by sending a written notice. Apple Cash does not allow users to opt out. And if you have a dispute, try to negotiate with the company before going to arbitration.
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