HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Connecticut’s attorney general William Tong urged people to be vigilant when using “peer to peer” apps like CashApp, Venmo, PayPal and Zelle to avoid losing money, giving out valuable personal information, or being victimized by scammers.
Attorney General William Tong issued the warning on Monday.
“Sadly, there are a lot of bad actors out there and when it comes to your money and your privacy you can never be too careful,” Tong said. “If you are using P2P apps like CashApp or Venmo to make transactions, check your account frequently for signs of fraud. Make sure you know the terms of the contract and carefully review all the transactions you make. A little vigilance can save you a lot of money and hassle down the road.”
He said like any product, consumers must make informed decisions with regard to use of financial technology products including the “peer to peer” applications for smart phones, otherwise known as “prepaid accounts” or “P2P accounts.”
He said consumers should carefully consider the agreement terms before choosing a particular P2P product. While these accounts offer simplicity and ease of use, Connecticut consumers should decide for themselves whether a product fits their specific needs. Then, after opening a P2P account, the onus remains on the consumer to be vigilant.
“Apps like Venmo and CashApp offer convenience in an increasingly cashless world, but like any new technology, there are security risks consumers should be aware of,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “Consumers should use strong passwords and two-factor authentication if it’s available in order to better protect themselves from hackers. Never send money to somebody you don’t know or haven’t met, and remember that no utility company or government entity will ask you to pay your bills through a P2P app.”
Tong’s office said it received several complaints about P2P apps like CashApp and Venmo. In one instance, a man complained that CashApp locked his account with $3,000 in it, which he needs to pay bills. In another instance, a man complained that he sent $2,250 through CashApp to a fake account that scammers had disguised as his bank. Another Connecticut woman used CashApp to pay a breeder for a puppy. When she never received the puppy, she was unable to cancel her transaction within the app and get her money back. Other app users have complained that unauthorized people hacked their accounts and stole thousands of dollars. One woman complained of a scam where she was contacted on her cell phone and told that her electricity would be disconnected in 30 minutes unless she could pay $150 to a CashApp account under the name “$Billpay305.”
Tong offered some tips to safely uses P2P apps:
- Never give out information over the phone to someone purporting to be from the company that issued the account. There are scammers who pose as Cash App customer service representatives.
- When sending money, enter addresses carefully. It is easy to send money to type the wrong account address, and then very difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve it.
- There are a vast number of reports of hacked prepaid accounts. Conduct regular reviews to screen for suspicious activity.
- Understand the difference between authorized and unauthorized transactions.
- Take care to follow all the contract terms, especially registering your account. Consumers may waive their rights to company investigation and corrections if the account is not registered and/or the suspect transaction is not reported to the P2P Issuer in a timely manner.
To file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General visit here.
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