Peer-to-peer payment apps like CashApp, Zelle, Popmoney, Venmo, and several others have seen a rise in usage since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re extremely convenient because they allow users to exchange money without ever handling cash. That said, if you’re not careful with these apps, you could find your entire bank account wiped in seconds.
Cash App Support Scam
Sakala Lewis uses various Cash Apps to collect payment from customers when she does small jobs, like babysitting or pet sitting. One Saturday she needed to get in contact with Cash App about a payment sent to the wrong account. She searched Google for their phone number and spoke with a man who seemed very helpful and understanding.
Assuring Sakala that he would help her through the situation, he asked that she download the Team Viewer app so he could “verify her account was legit”. He talked Sakala through the test verification process and a few moments later, Sakala began receiving notifications of money transfers.
“I saw notifications for $250, for $999, for $2,000, for $500,” she said. "So, I went to my bank account and he was saying, 'Ma’am, you need to stay on Cash App. Please go back to Cash App. Don’t leave Cash App.”
“I’m screaming. I’m yelling. I’m upset,” Sakala said, recalling the incident from early August. “He’s calm and he’s saying, ‘We’re gonna figure it out.’ I asked to speak to a manager. She gets on the phone. And she does the exact same thing.”
What happened? The phone number she found on Google wasn’t actually the number for Cash App’s customer support team. She got the phone number from a malicious website intended to trick unsuspecting customers into believing it was Cash App. Team Viewer, the app the scammer instructed her to download, is an app that allows others to control your device remotely. In less than five minutes, the scammer took nearly $5,800 from Sakala’s bank account.
CashApp representatives responded with the following statement:
We are always working to protect our customers, which includes educating them about phishing scams. As a reminder, the Cash App team will never ask customers to send them money, nor will they solicit a customer’s PIN or sign-in code outside of the app. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, you should contact Cash App support through the app or website immediately. For more information on common online scams, please visit https://cash.app/help/us/en-us/6482-recognize-scams.
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How to Avoid Cash App Scams
Fortunately for Sakala, she was able to get her money back by disputing transactions with Chase Bank. However, not everyone is so lucky. The Federal Trade Commission states that consumers can still be held responsible for unauthorized charges. If reported within 2 days of the theft, victims can be held liable for up to $50. Between 2 and 60 days, that amount increases to $500 and if reported after 60 days, victims are out of luck. Here are tips to avoid scams associated with Cash App and other peer-to-peer payment apps.
- Always use the contact information provided directly within the app or on the official website belonging to the company you need to contact.
- Use browser protection to ensure that you’re on the correct website instead of a malicious website designed to imitate another well-known website.
- If a company doesn’t provide an easily accessible phone number for support, don’t seek one elsewhere. Scammers capitalize on opportunities to sneak their phone numbers in on websites that reportedly provide “hard to find” support numbers.
- Never provide your PIN or login information to any support representative. Legitimate representatives will never ask for that information, not even for verification purposes.