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Peer-to-peer, or P2P, payment apps have become a popular way for people to quickly send money to each other. Apps like PayPal, Venmo and Cash App make paying friends or splitting bills super easy.

But this convenience comes with a downside. Just as these apps are popular among friends, they’ve caught the attention of scammers too. Here’s how to be aware of the risks and protect yourself.

What Is a P2P Payment?

A P2P payment is a digital money transfer made between two individuals without the need for a traditional banking system. Instead, these transactions happen online using a website or mobile app.

Popular platforms like PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, Google Pay and Zelle have made it easy for people to send and receive money online almost instantly. Whether it’s splitting a dinner bill, paying rent or just sending a gift, P2P payments offer a convenient solution.

7 Common Peer-to-Peer Payment Scams

While P2P apps make transferring money easy, there are scammers out there aiming to trick you. Here are a few scams to watch out for:

1. Phishing

Phishing is a tactic where scammers pretend to be a trustworthy entity, like a bank or payment platform, to trick you into revealing sensitive information like your passwords and credit card details.

When it comes to P2P scams, phishing might involve fake emails, texts or calls pretending to be from popular payment apps like PayPal or Venmo. The scammer might claim there’s a problem with your account and ask you to click a link or provide login details to “fix” the issue. Once you do, they can access your account, make unauthorized transactions or even lock you out.

2. Unauthorized Money Transfers

An unauthorized money transfer happens when someone moves money out of your P2P account without your permission. It’s more of a type of fraud than a scam, but it’s still worth knowing about. For P2P platforms, unauthorized money transfers can happen if a fraudster gains access to your account details, perhaps through phishing tactics or by stealing your login credentials.

If you ever check your Cash App or Venmo account and suddenly notice funds have been sent to a stranger, that’s an unauthorized transfer. Fraudsters often act quickly, making it challenging to stop the transaction once it’s initiated. They might even change account settings, so it’s harder to recover your account. You can help protect yourself from this type of crime by using multifactor authentication (MFA). Even if a criminal gets your account password, they would need to get past a second verification step to get to your account.

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