September 13, 2023 · Savings, Security
Only Make Digital Payments to People You Know and Trust
Digital payments can make life faster and easier. Whether someone is using Apple® Pay, Cash App, Google® Pay or Wallet, PayPal®, Venmo, or another of the numerous digital payment apps, platforms, networks, services and websites available in the U.S. and in other countries; paying and getting paid has never been simpler or quicker to accomplish. If something is easy to do—and it involves money—then it may also be relatively straightforward for a criminal to exploit the process and steal money from unsuspecting victims. Digital payments can be simple and fast, but they can also be untraceable and non-recoverable, making it difficult or impossible to either retrieve money sent to a crook or have the funds reimbursed by a financial company that unwittingly participated in the fraudulent transaction. If someone is making electronic payments, then they should be extra careful when transferring funds, and they should know and trust the person they are paying.
Tips for making safer digital payments
An important reminder: Delta Community will never call, text or email to ask for any details on its members’:
- Checking Accounts
- Savings Accounts
- Investment Accounts
- ATM access
- Debit Cards
- Credit Cards
- Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- Telephone access (IVR) PIN
It will also never ask members to send money electronically as a test or share one-time passcodes received via email or text.
If you are a Delta Community member, and someone tries to get personal financial or other information from you, hang up immediately and contact our Member Care Center via our toll-free number at 800-544-3328.
Here are recommendations for making digital payments:
- The first, most important information to know when making digital payment is…Only send money electronically to people you know and trust. If you don’t know someone, then ask yourself why you should be trusting them? When you make an online or mobile payment, it’s almost immediate. Because they are fast, crooks prefer electronic payments from their victims. Scammers will take your money and then won’t deliver the service or goods for which you’ve paid. Therefore, be very careful about who you are paying; you should only make digital payments to family, friends, colleagues and people that you know and trust. If you must deal with someone that you don’t know, then try to research the person on LinkedIn®, Yelp, Inc., the Better Business Bureau®, or other sites that might provide background information or ratings on them and their reputation.
- You don’t always have to send money quickly. You may need to pay someone, but if you do not know them, don’t make a digital payment and don’t pay quickly. Digital payment scams are effective because an electronic payment is fast and similar to cash. Be wary of anyone saying there is an emergency and they must have money from you immediately; that could be a sign of a scam, and the payer needs to extremely cautious. There may be entirely valid reasons why someone needs money quite quickly, but a payment delay of a few days generally should not create a personal financial crisis. If someone is selling something or renting an apartment or home then they should understand that not all payments are instantaneous and they need to be flexible in receiving slightly delayed money. Delaying a payment provides more time to verify that the person contacting you is authentic, and allows time to consider if the payment has to be made electronically or could be accomplished with a slower paper check sent in the U.S. Postal Service mail from a checking account. If necessary, a paper check can also be sent for overnight delivery at a higher cost through a package shipping service.
- Have your recipient send you a request for funds first to help prevent sending money to the wrong person. Having a request for payment come to you first from the payee, along with the payment details—such as the amount—helps you have accurate information and know that your payment will go to the right person. This precaution is especially useful when you are sending a first-time payment. You also need to make certain the recipient is using the same app or payment service as you.
- Confirm the recipient’s details before making a payment. If you type in the wrong name, email address, U.S. mobile number or payment amount, then you might send money to the wrong person and/or send the wrong amount—and it might not be recoverable. Always double check details, including the name, amount of money, email address or phone number before sending.
- Consider using a digital payment method connected to a credit card account, since it may offer better protection against scammed funds. Some digital payment services can be linked to a credit card for payment, and while there may be a fee added for using the card, using a payment service-credit card combination might actually be financially safer. Credit card accounts may offer liability protection not covered by the digital payer or by the financial institution (such as a bank or credit union) that the money is ultimately originating from.
- Be wary and definitely avoid having someone pay you by paper check and then ask you to return some of the money electronically; that’s a standard scamming tactic. This activity could be a fake check scam, and the FTC has details on how these work. After giving a check to you for more money than you’re owed, the scammer will then ask you to send some of the funds from the check back to them using a digital payment. The scammer will make up excuses for sending too much money, but the check is fake and no money from it is going into your account. A check can take seven days or longer to settle, clear and deposit funds into your account, but a digital payment is much faster. Any money sent back quickly to the scammer is based on a false deposit, and your financial institution may expect you to repay the money from the fake check.
- A legitimate financial institution (bank, credit union or other company) will not call you and ask you for account details, or ask you to test payment apps by sending money. If an “agent” calls from your financial services company and says there is an emergency with your account and you need to confirm account details or test sending money immediately—don’t give out any information; it’s likely to be an imposter running a scam to steal your money. Hang up and call your financial institution using a number from the company’s website and ask to speak to a representative, and then ask them to check if anything unusual is happening with your account.
- Set up your app to require two-factor authentication. Many payment apps have some safeguards built in by default to prevent someone that’s not you from accessing your account and transferring money. If your app doesn’t automatically require some method of additional authentication, such as a personal identification number (PIN), a passcode (usually a set of numbers that might be texted to you), or a fingerprint or face scan, then set up two-factor authentication (also called multi-factor authentication) immediately. By doing this you have extra security for confirming access to your accounts.
- Don’t assume your financial institution can protect you from scammers stealing your money and that you can get your money returned or replaced. A financial institution cannot know who its customers or members are talking or emailing with, and it cannot stop a customer or member from revealing account information or sending money to a fraudster. A financial institution does not decide who to pay, only the accountholder can make that decision. Your bank or credit union cannot offer to help you unless you contact it and tell its representative that someone may be trying to get access to your account(s) or that you think you have given money to a scammer. If a financial company’s customer or member willingly decides to send money to someone, if sending the money is their personal, voluntary decision—even if the funds are going to a crook—that payment is legal, authorized, and the responsibility of the sender. Usually, the financial institution does not have a legal responsibility to replace money that has been lost to crooks through the actions of the accountholder.
Have you been scammed? Here are some actions to consider
- You can provide a detailed report of the incident to the digital payment service provider, your financial company that supplied the money, and your credit card company if your card was used.
- The above companies may recommend that the scam also be reported to one or all of the three national personal credit rating agencies, Equifax®, Experian™, and TransUnion® to set up fraud alerts or have special messages attached to a personal credit report explaining fraudulent activity that may affect the report.
- If you think someone has already scammed you, collect and report the details (dates and times of contact, emails, phone numbers and phone records, website addresses, text messages, names of contacts or companies that were used), to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- The FTC’s other, newer website, ftc.gov/MoneyMatters, can also assist in spotting, avoiding and reporting scams.
- If you have already lost money to a scammer, the FTC has a series of quick steps to take so you can try and recover your funds.
- Another option for anyone who’s been a victim of an internet crime is to report it to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- If you suspect that someone may have stolen your identity and is passing themselves off as you, then visit IdentityTheft.gov. That website is the U.S. government’s one-stop resource for assisting identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists on actions to take and sample letters to send to companies to help manage identity theft.
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Digital payments have great benefits; they’re easy, fast and efficient, but remember to be cautious when making them. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FTC offer thorough recommendations on making safer payments, and Delta Community has more advice below.
- Learn how to make your mobile and online payments safer.
- Learn more about smart and safe buying on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- How to protect yourself online while working or learning from home.
- Why to question your security questions.
- How to secure your home network.
- How to get a stronger password and use a password manager.
- Be on the lookout for phishing, smishing and vishing attacks.
- Be vigilant for spoofed phone calls.
- Harden your email account against an attack.
- Read tips on how to avoid getting scammed when selling on auction sites.
- Did you know that only scammers get paid with gift cards or cryptocurrency?
- Before you connect, be careful with public Wi-Fi networks.
- How to protect your laptop and phone while traveling.
- Think for a minute, and then don’t click 'unsubscribe' from spam emails and texts—managing spam.