Received an ‘accidental’ payment on a money transfer app? It may be a scam

Updated: May. 2, 2020 at 8:59 PM CDT
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(WAFB) - Scammers are laundering stolen cash through money transfer apps, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported.

App users receive payments that can be several hundred dollars from an unknown account.

The user is then contacted by the account holder who claims they sent the money “by accident” and request the money be sent back.

The BBB says in some cases the initial payment came from a stolen credit card. When the money is returned the scammer replaces the information from the stolen card with their legitimate account information.

Since the initial payment was stolen, the card owner may become aware and cancel the payment, meaning that amount of money will be removed from your account.

“Be aware that unlike credit cards, many digital wallet vendors will not shoulder the cost of fraud,” the BBB reported. “If you pay scammers using a digital wallet, you may not ever get reimbursed.”

PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and Apple Pay, were among the apps listed by the BBB as potential targets for the scam.

The BBB gave the following tips:

  • Use money transfer with friends: Protect yourself from scams by only using money transfer apps for their intended purpose -- sending money to people you personally know.
  • If someone sends you money by mistake, ask them to cancel the transaction: The sender can request that the vendor cancel the transaction. If the person refuses, it’s probably a scam.
  • Enable additional security settings: Check your account settings to see if you can turn on additional security measures, such as multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN, or using fingerprint recognition.
  • Link your money transfer app to a credit card. As with many other purchases, using a credit card will help protect you if you don’t get the goods or services you paid for. Linking to a debit card or directly to your bank account does not give you that added protection.

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