Due to the pandemic, many of us are going virtual in many aspects of our lives. From Zoom work meetings to schooling, we are adapting to a socially distanced world. Payment apps such as Venmo, Zelle and PayPal are becoming increasingly popular for their convenience, speed and remoteness. However, you must be aware of the risks of Peer to Peer Payment Services (P2P). The general nature of these types of services make it easy for you to become a victim of a scam or hacker.
About P2P Payment Services
Over 90 million Americans currently use P2P payment apps. Some of the most popular are PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, CashApp, Apple Pay, Square Cash and PopMoney. All of these services are designed for you to quickly transfer or receive money to or from another user. Some of these apps can also be used to pay for transactions at a retailer. These apps can be a great option when you need to quickly send a few bucks to a friend.
However, these apps become dangerous when you start using them to pay for items from unknown sellers. Unlike using a credit card, many of these services don’t provide you with the same (or any) protection from fraudulent transactions. Also, if someone were to gain access to your account, they could easily access your bank account or credit card and do a great deal of damage.
Tips For Using P2P Payment Services
- Know what you’re signing up for. Before you ever sign up for one of these apps, you should read the fine print in their policies. PayPal will provide you with significant protection where Zelle, CashApp and Venmo won’t. Apple Pay is a great option for paying quickly at a store. You can use your phone to pay at a card reader without ever touching the screen. However, it isn’t a good option for paying an unknown seller. PayPal and Apple Pay are also great options for paying through checkout at reputable online websites.
- Use a strong password. You are storing a lot of valuable information on these apps, so you need to keep thieves out. For each P2P payment service you use, you should have a different, strong password. A strong password should be 10-12 characters which include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols ($, %, !, &, etc.). Instead of having to remember multiple strong passwords, a password manager can store them in a secure and easy to access way.
- If possible, use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is the act of having to enter two different forms of authentication in order to log in to an app or website. You will use your password as one factor and a PIN or a code which is texted or emailed to you as the other. Having multiple factors required to access your account will exponentially increase your security.
We hope that you now understand most of the risks of Peer to Peer payment services. Use this information to protect your accounts and your personal information. Many of these tips apply to other accounts you use online, so use them whenever possible.