In one brief moment, she saw roughly
And then, there were a few other pending transactions in the wings, again for items that she didn't buy and accounts that had nothing to do with her.
The problem? It's likely, her bank later told her, that she somehow was caught in a scam in late March where con artists access your money in your bank account via electronic money transfer accounts, such as
These days, someone is less likely to say “catch me next time” if you owe them
Many consumers love being able to repay their friends quickly for coffee or lunch via a cash transfer app, but the risk of getting caught by a con artist remains real.
They get your login credentials
How the scam starts can be pure speculation, as there are many strategies.
Often, though, the scammers can start out by somehow getting login credentials for the mobile payment account.
Thieves who once might have used stolen paper checks to try to get money out of your bank account now are turning to digital-fraud schemes as a lower-risk option.
“It's remote. I can drain your account without ever having to do anything in person,” said
Such sneaky scams can end up draining bank accounts, leaving the consumer stuck with a huge hassle as they try to work things out with the bank. Many times, consumers need to close the bank account and open another one to control the damage.
If you have automatic bill pay set up for some utilities, you're looking at resetting those, too. If a large amount of money is withdrawn, it could be right around the time you're set to pay big bills, such as a mortgage or other payments.
“I couldn't touch my money until they figured it out,” Trimer said.
She's still not sure exactly what happened in her case. She notified the bank immediately after spotting the odd online activity but the first transaction went through anyway. Trimer declined to name the bank, as she was concerned about security and felt the bank now was doing its best to respond to her problem. Ultimately, she did not lose any money because she acted quickly.
When she started talking about the incident with friends and others on social media, though, she was surprised to learn that others had faced similar hacking trouble.
Her story is an important reminder about how cyber thieves can try to use payment apps as a portal to your bank account.
Thieves may use an email to get login info
Con artists use all sorts of tricks.
Sometimes, you can receive an email out of the blue to try to trick you into handing over key information.
Such emails are sent randomly. If you're using these cash apps, you might not think twice about verifying your credentials. But you should stop before moving too quickly.
Once the scammers get your account information, they're soon off to the races.
Sometimes, hackers take login information stolen from previous data breaches and then try to use those same credentials on as many accounts as possible to see if they will work. It's called “credential stuffing.”
“The problem is, like everything else, we re-use passwords,” Pascual said.
So if your password is compromised somewhere else, hackers may be able to use it as a login for other accounts.
Or they may set up a fake website
You might even run across a fake or clone website online.
“With the cash apps such as Venmo, a lot of the scams come from fake customer service numbers found online,” said
The scammers pose as customer service agents and then get you to confirm your cash app account information — which is linked to your bank account.
“Scammers can then take money out of your account,” Blankenship said.
Or you might be trying to sell an item, say a piece of furniture, and a scammer asks you for account information in order to pay you via Venmo or another mobile payment option.
If you don't have a
“It's a fake link,” Blankenship said. “And they're able to steal your banking information once you've inserted it into the 'platform.'”
Check your statements regularly
For consumers, it's essential to check your banking statements regularly to spot any signs of trouble. Don't give your Venmo account information to a stranger. Never click on links in emails. Don't fall for phishing schemes.
“The safety and security of our customers' accounts is
Consumers need to be on high alert and take some precautions, according to
Never save passwords or credit information on any website, no matter how secure the site claims to be, he said. He designates one credit card for online use with built in fraud insurance and cyber liability.
Remember, a bank isn't going to ask you to verify information via email.
Pascual noted that banking customers have protections if they act promptly when fraudsters gain access to an account with stolen login credentials. But you have far less protection if you've given a scammer your bank account information directly.
Typically, banks note that electronic banking disclosures detail that it is the customer's responsibility to notify the bank for unauthorized electronic activity within 60 days from the statement containing the first disputed transaction. If the investigation supports fraudulent activity occurred, the customer will be reimbursed.
Venmo specifically warns about using its service to buy or sell things from strangers like concert tickets, sneakers or electronic equipment.
“These transactions are potentially high risk, are not allowed under Venmo's User Agreement and Venmo does not offer a protection program for such transactions,” the online notice reads.
“If you send a Venmo payment to someone for a good or service, you could lose your money without ever getting what you paid for,” the notice reads.
“If you accept a Venmo payment from someone for a good or service and we later review the payment, we may reverse the payment, meaning you could lose both the payment and the item sold,” the notice reads. “This review process may not occur until after you attempt to transfer the funds out of Venmo.”
Look for 'Venmo' or '
Pay careful attention to your bank statements, too.
“If you are seeing Venmo on your bank or card statement and do not have an account with us, this usually indicates your financial information was added to our service by an authorized friend or family member, or by someone else without your authorization,” Venmo notes online.
The Venmo website also notes: “If you confirm the payments were not authorized by you or someone with permission to use your card, it's likely someone has gained unauthorized access to your personal and/or financial information.”
Alert your bank immediately
There is no way for Venmo to determine how your account information was breached, but consumers are advised to act quickly by updating their online banking and financial services passwords, contacting their bank or card company, filing a dispute and requesting a new bank account number or card number.
Remember, often, crooks will test that bank account access by starting out modestly, say transferring
You may not spot that a dollar or two just left your bank account. But if you do see such a sign, alert your bank immediately.
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