Think of the payments as cash, said Jennifer White, senior director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power. “You would not hand someone you did not know cash, and so you shouldn’t send cash to anyone you are not personally connected with.”
Other tips: Use the identity verification options your app offers, like two-factor authentication, Ms. White said. They may slow things down a bit, but they can help avoid problems.
Check your accounts at least once a week to see if anything looks amiss. And if you no longer use an app, delete it from your phone so it won’t be vulnerable to hacking.
While people may leave funds in the apps indefinitely and use them as a payment source, it’s wise to transfer funds into your own bank account as soon as possible. But consumers may be reluctant to do so quickly since some apps may charge fees for “expedited” transfers, Ms. Gittleman said.
Here are some questions and answers about payment apps:
What should I do if I pay the wrong person by mistake?
The apps offer suggestions on their websites. Venmo, for instance, advises sending the person a request for payment, in the same amount that you paid, along with a note asking the person to repay you the money you sent by mistake. This “may help you get your money back faster” than contacting Venmo support, the website says. If that doesn’t work, the site says, contact support — “and we’ll do our best to help.”
But the do-it-yourself approach depends on the cooperation of the recipient. And some may be skeptical because banks also warn mobile app users to be wary of requests to refund mistaken payments, as they could be fraudulent. The American Bankers Association, for example, advises users to “never” send a payment to someone who says you got an accidental payment via one of the payment services. Instead, it says, contact the payment app about the error.
How can I avoid falling for a potential scam?
Be suspicious of unexpected requests for payments, the Federal Trade Commission advises, such as someone pretending to be a loved one needing quick cash for an emergency. Confirm, by speaking to the person, that the request is real and not from someone who hacked into the person’s account.