Brand SpotlightOn Your Side


Protecting yourself from phone app scams

Scammers target those working through phone apps
Protecting yourself from phone app scams
Posted at 11:09 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 01:09:06-05

SOUTHERN COLORADO — Side jobs are becoming more popular, to help people earn some extra money. Some of them are through phone apps, where people can give rides, deliver food, and even walk dogs. Scammers are also keeping up with the trend, and one of our own photojournalists at News5 was scammed out of hundreds of dollars because of a convincing phone call.

Ryan Mutch uses the app Wag! to walk dogs, and has been doing it for around two weeks. On Monday night, he got a call from someone claiming to be from Wag!'s financial department, telling him their third party payment system was down, and they needed access to his Cash App account. The person told Mutch he would not be paid for five dog walks if Mutch did not give him the information. "Felt like it put a lot of pressure on me to be like, 'oh my gosh, this is not good,' I don't want to loose those earnings that I've made," said Mutch.

Less than an hour after the phone call, "I saw that I had over $800 withdrawn, and I was like okay, this is not making sense, what's going on," said Mutch.

Those with the Colorado Springs Police Department said scammers are becoming more creative. "Apps specifically will use certain third parties to do deposits and transactions, and if they ask you to go to a different one, that's often times a red flag that you can look for... You'll know it's a scam because they're going to ask you to do something immediately. It'll say things such as give us this money, or deposit us a check in this amount or we're going to shut down your account, we're going to do things like that. Most of the time that's not really the case with a lot of companies," said Natashia Kerr, a spokesperson for CSPD.

We reached out to Wag! which told us they will never contact their dog walkers directly. They also provided us with this statement, touching on another kind of scam which has become more prevalent:

"While there has been no breach of Wag!’s systems, we have become aware that third-party scammers have attempted to obtain password information from some Pet Caregivers in an attempt to access sensitive information, including bank account and other private data. To help Pet Caregivers protect themselves, Wag! has sent messages via email, push notification, and in the app notifying Pet Caregivers of this scam and reminding them of the importance of keeping their passwords confidential. As Wag! informed Pet Caregivers, Wag! will never ask anyone in the community for their confidential bank account information. We also continue to enhance the security of account information, including working with the third-party payment processor that handles Pet Caregiver payments to add two-step authentication."

News5 also reached out to services like Lyft and Grubhub, and is waiting to hear back from them. As for Mutch, the bank has refunded his money.