New Fraud and Scam Attempts Target Twitter, Personal Payment Apps
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Payment Apps
As we change our financial habits and conduct more digital transactions in response to the pandemic, online criminals are attempting new ways to commit fraud and steal identities. Two recent scams have targeted Twitter and personal payment apps (like Venmo and Zelle). But - by using secure practices for online transactions, you can protect your accounts and defeat these fraudsters. Here are the examples of current fraud attempts in those categories.
Fraudsters set up fake Twitter accounts under the names of celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, or financial institutions. They then use that fake account to send messages to individuals via Twitter. The messages offer an “investment opportunity” in which the individual needs to send money in the form of virtual currency (like Bitcoin). The fraudulent offer promises to send back double the amount, typically within 30 or 60 days.
Victims of this scam have been deceived because they recognize the name of the person or business making the offer, and because the message arrives from a seemingly credible source like Twitter. Here are some signs that the offer you receive via Twitter is likely fraudulent:
Promises of high or guaranteed investment or donation returns for payments made to accounts with which you have no prior business relationship.
Solicitations with misspellings from individuals or organizations with whom you have no prior existing business relationship, including celebrities or public figures.
Solicitations requesting donations via social media where the solicitor is not affiliated with a reputable organization.
Social media posts that solicit donations or advertise give-aways that appear from accounts that do not have verification from the social media platform itself.
Users of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) or personal payment apps like Venmo and Zelle have also been targeted for scams. Though fast and convenient, P2P payment apps require the same diligence and secure practices as other financial services. Here are some techniques used by scammers:
Online schemes for fraudulent offers that require payment via P2P app. Because using P2P apps is so easy, people often pay without properly reviewing the recipient.
Fraudsters illegally obtain an individual’s name and credit card number and set up a bogus P2P account in the victim’s name.
Scammers contact victims and impersonate the fraud department of a financial institution, asking for personal and account information to “resolve” a fictitious problem. The scammers then use the obtained passcode to take over the victim’s P2P app and take money from the victim’s account.
Fraudsters will ask to borrow a victim’s phone, saying they lost theirs or the battery died. While pretending to send a text, the fraudster actually goes into the victim’s P2P app and transfers funds from the victim’s account to theirs.
When a victim’s Bluetooth is turned on, highly skilled hackers can get into a smartphone via the enabled Bluetooth portal, and gain access to any application where the victim’s username and password are automatically stored. Be conscientious about where and when your device is Bluetooth enabled.
Preventing P2P Payment Fraud
Education and awareness remain the best ways to prevent fraud in all categories. Following are tips for preventing P2P payment fraud.
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. When purchasing something, use a service with buyer protection.
- Double-check the username or phone number of the person you are sending money to, and try sending a small amount first to confirm that your intended recipient received it.
- Opt-in for stronger security. Almost every popular P2P platform offers the ability to create a personal identification number (PIN) or use facial recognition.
- Before using any P2P service, search the app for customer service contacts and procedures so you know where to go in case you have a dispute.
- Make sure you have auto-updates turned on for your device to ensure your app has the latest updates and protections.
- Set up alerts so that you can automatically be notified of transactions or any account changes.
- Don’t let strangers borrow your phone. They could pretend to be using it for an emergency but really be using it to transfer money from your app to their account.
- Consider linking your credit card in the app, instead of a debit card, so you have more fraud protection.
- If you suspect fraud, freeze or lock your card immediately, contact the P2P app customer service to initiate a dispute, then separately contact your financial institution for further instructions.
Do not fall victim to scammers who take advantage of this technology. Continue to follow established guidelines for preventing fraud and identity theft. As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Cinfed monitors fraud activity on a daily basis through our national network. We will continue providing you with updates and information to help keep your accounts safe and secure. For more information, visit the Security Corner on our website. For additional updates, you can read our blog post with Ways to Avoid Coronavirus Scams.