PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Millions of Americans use digital wallet apps like Venmo or Google Pay as a convenient way to transfer funds from one user to another.
It may seem like an accident if you get a money transfer from an unknown account, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns it could be part of a new scam.
Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer, says searching for the right account can sometimes be a challenge when using these apps.
“The names are very similar. Some people have the exact same name, just a number differentiating at the end, so it’s very easy to mistake someone’s identity,” she explained. “It seems logical that someone may say, ‘oops, can you send me back the money I accidentally sent it to you? I confused you with a friend.'”
Fleming said if you get a money transfer from someone you don’t know followed by a similar message, they could be trying to trick you.
“Scammers are connecting stolen credit cards to Venmo, Apple Pay and using them to transfer money to unsuspecting users,” she said.
She stressed the importance of knowing who you’re sending money to or receiving it from.
“If you are leaving yourself open to Venmoing back and forth with people you don’t know, maybe purchasing something online, then you’re leaving yourself open to a potential scam,” Fleming added.
Fleming said the scammer will then delete the stolen card and replace it with their own.
“The money you are sending will go to their personal card, and the stolen money will be removed from your account and you will be out that money,” she said.
Fleming said the best thing to do is to ask the person to reverse it on their end.
“If someone sends you money by mistake, ask them to cancel the transaction rather than send the money back,” she said. “If the person refuses, then it’s probably a scam, because they have the ability to cancel the transaction.”
Fleming warned that you could be responsible for the lost funds, since some of the digital wallet apps don’t provide buyer or seller protection.
“You’re a conduit from getting money from bank to con artist,” she said. “Venmo has a warning: if it turns out there’s a problem, the payments will be reversed and you will be responsible for that money.”
Fleming also said to make sure the security settings are up to date on all of your devices.
“Check your account settings to see if you can turn any additional security measures on,” she said.
If you think you’re being scammed, Fleming advised reporting it to the digital wallet app.