I imagine most of you at one time or another have used a financial payment app like Venmo or PayPal or you have taken advantage of your bank’s mobile app. But, just how safe are these payment and banking apps?
In truth, scammers and hackers have been one-step ahead of the financial industry much too often, leaving your account and sensitive data exposed. As a consequence, you the consumer, can be set up for account seizures, data leaks and scams.
According to recent studies, 97% of the apps tested lacked binary code protection and 90% of apps shared services with other applications, leaving your financial data accessible. This can provide hackers with the information they are looking for to access your account information.
And what about those payment apps that seem so convenient? Accounts like PayPal are the number one targets for con artists because they are directly linked to your bank account or payment card. Once upon a time, thieves stole your paper checks to get money out of your bank accounts. Today, through digital options, they can drain your account without ever doing anything in person, decreasing the likelihood of them getting caught.
Some studies showed that in 2017 alone more than $500 million dollars was stolen involving peer-to-peer payments such as PayPal and Venmo. Scammers use all kinds of ruses to get your information. If they get your email address, they will often send you and email that looks like it’s from PayPal or Venmo. They will ask you to verify your information and without a thought, you do, and they are off to the marathon draining accounts. In addition, we have a habit of using the same password for everything. And if your password has been compromised someplace else, an adept scammer can use it to login to your other accounts.
Consumers should also be aware of phony websites. Quite often, cash apps like Venmo have counterfeit numbers online where scammers pose as customer service representatives and they get you to reveal your account information, which is connected to your bank account. Results – they drain your bank account!
Consumers should check their statements on a regular basis and never give your bank, Venmo or PayPal information to someone you do not know or trust. You should never save passwords or credit information on any website and your bank will never ask you to verify your information via email. In addition, Venmo does not offer protection for buying or selling things from strangers such as sneakers, electronics or concert tickets. These are considered high risk purchases and you could lose your money without ever getting what you paid for.
Protecting your money and your sensitive data is up to you. Monitor your bank statements and look for signs of breaches. Quite often, an offender will test out an account by transferring small amounts of money like $5 or $10 to see if it is noticed. If you notice such activity, notify your bank at once. Apps like Venmo and PayPal cannot establish how your information was breached, but as a consumer, you should update your online banking and financial passwords, file a dispute, and request a new bank account or card number as soon as you discover a breach.
The financial industry is a rewarding target for those looking to scam and rob because it results in easily available cash. Financial institutions have increased their readiness for data breach attempts as well as protection practices and remedies for consumers who become victims. Nonetheless, consumers must stay alert and aware of these potential threats and act quickly if suspicious activity is detected.