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Report shows increase in complaints with digital payment apps

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 16:58:28-04

Digital payment apps have become even more popular during the pandemic, but we're seeing more complaints about them now as well.

U.S. PIRG released a report Tuesday examining complaints. It shows more than 5,200 from mid-2020 to mid-2021. In April of this year alone, there were 970. That's almost double the previous complaint peak in July 2020.

The most common issues are problems managing accounts, problems with fraud or scams, or problems with transactions.

“People are complaining, not just once, they're complaining for weeks or months at a time and they're getting no result,” said Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Director of Federal Consumer Programs at U.S. PIRG.

The major payment apps warn you should only send money to people you know and trust. You want to watch out for any unexpected requests. Set your privacy settings to the most private, which isn't the default. And double-check the person's username before sending any money.

“A big problem with the scammers and the apps is that when you initiate the transaction and send the money to the bad guy. It's not an unauthorized charge under the act. Congress should fix that,” said Mierzwinski.

Most payments are instant and usually can't be canceled. PayPal and Square are the most complained about digital wallet companies through April in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database.

A representative with Square's cash app tells us the company recently released an AI-driven feature that flags potential spam or scams for payments in the app.

They'll also send you a double prompt confirming you want to send money when they don't think the person is on your contact list.

PayPal and Venmo also tell us they have a number of processes in place to quickly identify new scams and fraud.

If you think you're the victim of a scam, the companies say you should contact them immediately. Also, contact your bank.