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Have you heard of peer-to-peer payment apps such as Venmo and Cash App?  These money transferring apps sit on the phones of millions of Americans, and the numbers grow by the day.  Their convenience is hard to dismiss, since they function as a bank transaction watering hole, allowing for quick transactions between individuals despite what bank is used.  Unfortunately, this technology is not without its flaws, and we at OCABR want to make sure you take the necessary precautions to avoid financial risk.

Arguably the biggest drawback of these apps is the inability to retract any payment once it’s been sent out.  This means if you aren’t careful and accidentally send money to someone, it can be very difficult to get your money back.

If you erroneously send money to a friend, you can likely just ask them to send it back. However, if you’re sending money to someone you don’t know well, searching for their account isn’t easiest task. More often than not, you need to know an acquaintance’s specific account handle in order to find them (instead of searching by their name). To further complicate the situation, profile photos can often be misleading and unhelpful in confirming the identity of an account.  Profile photos often contain multiple people or are of bad quality, or an account may not have a picture at all.

To avoid these trip wires, OCABR suggests you:

  • Make your account name simple and as close to your actual name as possible, to ensure easy access to those who search for it.
  • Make your account private.
  • Choose a profile picture that is easily seen and identifiable.
  • When making a peer-to-peer payment, confirm the account is that of your intended recipient.
    • Ask for their contact, so the account is easier to find.
    • Ask them to write down the correct account.
    • Perform the transaction in prson if possible.
  • Use the decline and block features when available.
  • Educate yourself on common scams.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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