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Peer to Peer (P2P) Payment Scams

blue lock sitting on computer keyboard, p2p payment scams

Peer to peer (also known as P2P) payment platforms like Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal are super convenient. However, it’s best to stay on your toes, because these same services can open the door to many scams.  Plus, once money is transferred by P2P, it’s often gone forever. Here are five P2P payment scams to beware of:

Mystery money

In this P2P scam, a stranger “accidentally” sends the target money and then reaches out, wanting their money back. The target sees these funds in their P2P account and returns them. Unfortunately, though, because the money was added to the target’s account using a stolen credit card or account, the platform flags the original transaction as fraud and removes the funds from the victim’s account. This results in a total loss of the original amount of money “sent” to the target.

Hidden credit card fraud

In this P2P scam, a fraudster purchases an item listed on a site, like Craigslist, using a P2P service. The scammer then picks up the item, or has it shipped to their home, and they’ll never be heard from again. Meanwhile, the P2P platform will eventually recognize the funds for the purchase come from a bogus source, and will take the money back from the seller.

Utility scams

In this scam, a “rep” from a utility company reaches out to a target, claiming their service will be shut off unless a payment is made immediately. The scammer insists on payment by P2P. Unfortunately, once the transfer is made, it can be impossible to reclaim the money.

Password scam

In this scam, an alleged representative of a credit union or bank will reach out to a target by text, asking them to approve a recent large P2P transfer from their account. A “no” response will prompt the scammer to call the victim. Posing again as a rep of their financial institution, they’ll offer to assist in reclaiming the allegedly frauded money. To do so, the scammer claims the victim will need to share their Zelle login credentials. Unfortunately, if the victim shares the one-time passcode, the scammer can change the password and send themselves money through the victim’s account.

Bogus receipts

Here, a scammer will insert themselves into a legitimate P2P transaction by digitally manipulating a screenshot. The scammer will edit the photo to make it appear as if they have completed a part of an ongoing deal and insisting you now owe them money. In truth, though, the transaction was never completed and, if you send the money, you’ll be sending it directly to a scammer’s P2P account.

Stay safe

  • Only send and accept funds from people you know and trust.
  • Always confirm you’re interacting with the correct person. Verify their phone number at every stage of the P2P transaction process.
  • Call the P2P platform’s customer service number directly to resolve any errors. Similarly, reach out to Elevate Credit Union directly if you receive notification of an allegedly frauded account.
  • Check your checking account after every P2P transaction to confirm that you’ve received the funds.

Once again, peer to peer (P2P) payment platforms can improve your financial life, but make sure you keep an eye out for these common P2P payment scams. Stay safe, and check out more articles like this on our MoneySmart Tips blog.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a P2P scam? Share your experience in the comments.

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