There’s nothing easier than payment with the click of a button. That is
why many now use mobile payment apps like Venmo and Square. As
convenient as these apps are, Apple
Federal Credit Union, which has 21 branches throughout Northern
Virginia, warns about the risks involved in this kind of payment and has
released a list of safeguards to help consumers protect their funds.
“There is growing popularity with use of these mobile payment apps,”
says Larry Larsen, Director of Cyber Security at Apple Federal Credit
Union. “The trouble is, the more popular these apps are, the more
criminals want to exploit them for their own profit.”
Venmo reported 40 million users at the end of April 2019, and total
payment volume for Venmo grew 73 percent year over year to $21 billion
in the first quarter, according to the company. Venmo is on pace to do
$100 billion in payment volume this year. Rival Square reported 15
million monthly active users for its cash app as of December. More
established systems like PayPal continue to be popular for everything
from retail purchases to sending money between friends.
Venmo and Square are very popular mobile cash apps that are designed for
payment between friends and reputable businesses. Within these confines,
these are safe systems: the typical security and technology expected
from a financial institution protects users’ account information.
However, buying or selling with strangers (online or in person) is
risky. Here are some consumer tips to help cash app users protect
Be Vigilant: Like any payment form, monitor your accounts
and sign up for alerts so you can instantly review transactions. If you
have implemented these safeguards and money is stolen from your account,
you will likely be protected by federal law if you act fast and notify
the cash app service and your credit union or bank immediately.
Getting Paid: All mobile payment systems can carry a bit of risk.
The risk with Venmo is that payments you receive can be reversed after
they hit your account. The money appears instantly, and you might even
be able to use the funds. If it turns out that there is a problem, the
payment will be reversed, and you are responsible for that money. If you
have not used the funds, Venmo will confiscate the money. If you already
spent the money, you will need to replace it.
Beware of Scams: Although it appears instantaneous, payments
actually are not. In a typical Venmo scam, a “buyer” contacts you about
something you are selling. They ask to pay with Venmo and promptly make
payment if you accept. At that point, you hand over the item to the
buyer. After a few days, the buyer reverses the transaction and keeps
your merchandise. This has been seen often in criminal fraud activity.
Recourse Options: Venmo, for instance, generally does not offer
assistance in cases like the scam described above. The user agreement
specifies that the service is for “payments between friends and people
who trust each other,” and that there is no buyer or seller protection.
In the past, Venmo has told customers to work things out with whomever
“paid” and took merchandise. Of course, bad guys will not cooperate,
which leaves you with few options besides calling the police or bringing
legal action against the buyer (if you can find the buyer).
Being educated about best practices for using mobile payment apps will
help consumers protect their assets. More consumer tips related to
banking are available at www.AppleFCU.org.
About Apple Federal Credit Union
Established in 1956, Apple FCU is ranked as a top 100 credit union
nationwide, serving nearly 210,000 members with $2.7 billion in assets.
As a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, Apple FCU
serves a diverse community of local education systems and anyone who
lives or works in Fairfax, Frederick (VA) and Prince William counties.
Members enjoy competitive rates, as well as fair and honest products and
services, within a trusted environment. The Credit Union is fully
committed to making a positive impact within the region, not only in
financial services, but also in community involvement, financial
literacy and charitable giving. To learn more, visit AppleFCU.org.
Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Lender.