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Scammers target money sharing smartphone apps

Consumer experts warn 40 Million U.S. Venmo users
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 20:28:21-04

Watching out for your money, smartphone money sharing apps have become one of the most popular ways to quickly pay friends, neighbors, or family at the touch of a button on your smart phone, but News5 has learned one mistake can give crooks access to your bank account.

Ever heard of Venmo? It's the app that roughly 40 million people use around the nation to send money to one another, but News5 has learned the company is the latest target for scammers and it could affect your bank account.

Just a couple clicks on your smartphone and you can send money or get it from anyone. This might sound great, but the service is connected to your bank account, which is attracting people who are after your hard earned money.

"It's not unreasonable for someone to receive a text from Venmo saying there has been a debit from your account, check on it," said KCPD Economic Crime Investigator Lori Meadors.

This is where tech experts say a fraudster can get you. The text sends you to a site to stop the transaction by asking you to put in your financial information.

"You'll have to confirm your bank account number and your credit card information and from there, they got you," said Lance Shriner of Integral Computer Consultants.

The site then asks to put in your bankcard number and other information to verify it is you. This is a scammer, not Venmo. It's cost people large amounts of money and the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado urges consumers to verify communication from Venmo is legitimate before doing anything else.

"Take caution when you are using apps like Venmo, not that the app is bad, but just take caution that anytime you are using that you could be opening yourself up to that. I think just verifying when you do get those text messages or alerts verifying that it truly is coming from Venmo and not giving them information from your account or personal information that can put you at risk," said Adah Rodriguez of Better Bureau of Southern Colorado.

In many of these cases people have not been able to recover lost money.

According to Venmo's policy it does not offer assistance in most scam cases. The user agreement specifies the service is for payments between friends and people who trust each other. Consumer experts say paying with a debit card or credit card will in most cases offer more fraud protection than money sharing apps.