Seven in 10 people rely on peer-to-peer payment apps to transfer money in a quick and easy manner, according to an AARP survey. It also found that about half believe they’re able to reclaim money sent in error.
While the platforms are convenient, the difficulty of recovering funds sent through them makes the technology, and those who use it, uniquely vulnerable to scammers, said Kathy Stokes, AARP director of Fraud Prevention Programs. This may especially be the case as more people use delivery services for groceries and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know scammers are already capitalizing on anxieties and fears around coronavirus,” Stokes said. “With so many people at home, consumers should be alert for possible scams on peer-to-peer payment platforms.”
She said it’s crucial for people to know how these platforms work and that sending money to someone you don’t know presents significant risk.
Common peer-to-peer payment apps include PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Square, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. The “Peer to Peer Payment Practices and Associated Risks” report details how often people are using these platforms, reasons for using them, and associated risks. It also highlights the misuse of peer-to-peer tools due to insufficient understanding of how the platforms work.
The survey findings include:
- 71 percent of U.S. adults report using peer-to-peer payment platforms. Among those, users say they sometimes, 24 percent, frequently, 35 percent, or rarely, 41 percent, use peer-to-peer payment platforms.
- More education is needed to raise awareness on how peer-to-peer payment platforms operate. Over half of U.S. adults incorrectly answered a quiz question about being able to reclaim your money if you make an error sending money through a peer-to-peer payment platform.
- U.S. adults are using peer-to-peer payment platforms to send money to people they don’t know. When making a purchase through an online bidding site, over half send the money to a seller with whom they have previously never done business and three in five send the money to a seller rated highly for fulfillment and delivery.
For more information on scams, go to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, a resource for people of all ages. Consumers can sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that offer information about scams, or call 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help if someone falls victim to a scam. The network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips, an interactive scam-tracking map, and links for AARP’s podcast series, The Perfect Scam.