Safely Using Mobile Payment Apps


Mobile payment apps have made it easier than ever to send and receive money. You no longer need to write a check or withdraw cash to pay or reimburse others. However, as with most digital conveniences, mobile payment apps are most helpful when you are informed of the ways in which scammers use them and how to protect yourself from scams.

A few of the most common mobile payment scams include cash flipping; fake support; the sale of non-existent items online; phishing emails, texts, and calls; romance scams; and investment scams.

  • Cash flipping – scammer requests you send money to receive a greater amount in return
  • Fake support – user is directed to a website with false contact information for the mobile payment app
  • Sale of non-existent items – fraudster posts item for sale online and requests either a partial or full payment through a mobile payment app
  • Phishing emails, texts, and calls – scammer poses as mobile payment app to collect personal information
  • Romance scams – scammer posts profile on dating site to gain trust of victim and then requests money for various reasons
  • Investment scams – victim receives emails or messages about fraudulent investment opportunities (cryptocurrency being a popular subject)

If you do happen to pay a scammer, make sure you report it to the app and ask to reverse the transfer, inform your bank/financial institution, and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

It is not uncommon to find yourself the victim of one of the scams mentioned above, which is why you should know how to protect yourself on mobile payment apps. Before you start using one of these apps, or even if you have already downloaded and started using an app, there are certain protections you will want to put in place on your phone. These include safety features such as face scan, retina scan, fingerprint scan, lock code, and two-factor authentication. Choosing the right payment app is also important, as it should be one that is safe and trusted. Once you download the app, make your way through the bullet points below and make sure each one is checked off.

  • Use strong password protection
  • Set up alerts in the app to receive transaction notifications via email or text
  • Regularly check your bank account, credit card account, and the app to ensure no unauthorized payments have been sent or accepted
  • Confirm you know the person you are sending money to and double check the recipient’s information before hitting send
  • Don’t share any personal or sensitive information outside the app, such as username, PIN, or password
  • Connect a credit card to the account rather than a debit card
  • If you receive an unexpected request from someone you know, speak with them first to make sure the request is really from them
  • Don’t click on links in an unexpected email, text, or direct message; don’t send a payment to claim a prize or sweepstakes winnings; and don’t send sensitive information when connected to public wi-fi

Zelle® can be accessed within your banking app if your financial institution offers the service (by the way, Zelle® is available in the MVB app) and account numbers are not shared when you send or receive money. Users can typically send money directly from their accounts in minutes and the service is provided to Middletown Valley Bank account holders at no cost.

Apple Pay and Google Pay are also popular mobile payment options. They allow you to save and use cards in a digital wallet without the actual card number appearing when you make a purchase, as a unique code is generated for each transaction. This gives you the freedom to make purchases in-person, in-app, or online without ever presenting the physical card – simply hold your mobile device over the payment terminal in-person or choose the Apple Pay or Google Pay option online and in-app.

Mobile payment apps offer significant convenience for users when they are used with safety and caution. Before you choose the app that makes the most sense for you, be sure to set up the necessary safety features on your mobile device. Once those are in place, you will have much greater peace of mind when sending and receiving money digitally.

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