October 31, 2023

FBI Tech Tuesday: Beware of Scams on Popular Peer-to-Peer Payment Apps

EL PASO, TX—Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment applications have become so popular they have become common verbs in our society when we refer to payment. The P2P have made it so easy to send money to other people just by searching for their phone number, email address, or username. Although P2P payment services can be easy to set up, simple to use, and are generally secure, it’s important to be aware that criminals may try to scam you into sending money.

Scammers impersonating your bank may call to alert you about “suspicious activity” on your account and direct you to send money to yourself or “the bank’s address” to reverse a transaction or to verify the account is not frozen. However, your bank will never tell you to send money to anyone, not even yourself. Criminals try to make you believe you’re sending money to yourself, but you’re actually sending money to the impostor.  

Fraudsters may reach out claiming to represent a fraud department or merchant and ask you to confirm information such as your bank account username and password, credit card or debit card data, or Social Security numbers. But do not share this information — scammers want to create a P2P account with your information, steal your identity, and gain access to your accounts. 

A scammer “accidentally” sends you money on a P2P service and asks you to send the money back. Never send back the money, and instead contact the P2P service about the error. Criminals’ accounts usually use stolen funds that the P2P payment service will eventually flag as a fraud. If you send money back to the scammer, the P2P service could take funds out of your account or hold you responsible. 

How to protect yourself from these scams: 

  • Only use P2P apps to send money to friends, family and other people you know and trust.
  • Don’t use P2P apps to send money to people or businesses you don’t know.
  • Don’t fall for forced urgency.
  • Don’t let anyone you don’t know borrow your phone.
  • Only call your bank using the number on the back of your card or on your bank statement and not online phone numbers as they may be spoofed. 
  • Set up alerts to notify you of any transaction on your account. 
  • Ensure that your bank or P2P app you use is updated with the newest version. 
  • Look at the phone number you receive a text message from. If the number is a full 10-digit phone number, then it’s a scam. Most banking institutions will only text you from a short 5-digit code and will never include a link. 
  • Do be cautious of using bank or P2P apps on public Wi-Fi or mobile hotspots.  

If you become a victim of a P2P payment scam, notify the P2P payment platform, contact your bank immediately, and file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call the FBI El Paso Field Office at (915) 832-5000. 

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