Whether splitting a restaurant bill with friends, paying the pet sitter or tipping your barber, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself using a peer-to-peer payment app — or at least considering it.
PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Cash App and others make it easy to send and receive money.
You link your bank account, debit card or credit card to the app, so you don’t have to swap sensitive account information with the other person in a transaction. Instead, you share details such as a username, an e-mail address or a phone number. Usually, transfers arrive quickly in the recipient’s app balance, though moving the funds from the app to a bank account fee-free may take a few days.
But peer-to-peer apps can also leave you more vulnerable to fraud. They’re an increasingly popular target for scammers who, for instance, trick users into sending money for goods or services that never materialize. Or a crook may pose as someone you know and request funds from you.
Unfortunately, you may never get back money lost in such scams because you made the payment yourself. But it’s worth asking the company to reverse the transfer if you’ve been scammed.
However, if a criminal gains access to your peer-to-peer account and makes unauthorized transactions, you have legal protections.