Many Americans are using mobile payment apps, but is your money secure?

A recent survey found that nearly 4 in 5 Americans use mobile payment apps, and some have even started to use them in place of traditional bank accounts. But some consumer experts say that this comes with some risk.

News 12 Staff

Jul 17, 2020, 10:41 PM

Updated 1,376 days ago

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A recent survey found that nearly 4 in 5 Americans use mobile payment apps, and some have even started to use them in place of traditional bank accounts. But some consumer experts say that this comes with some risk.
When Kimberly McCracken was laid off from her job as a forklift driver, she did not have a bank account. So, she says that she had her unemployment benefits deposited into her Cash App account.
“Everybody had it. Like, Cash App was like the new trending thing. So, I’m thinking it’s just really, really, really safe,” McCracken says.
But her account was frozen in May. Cash App called it a fraud alert, and weeks later she still does not have access to her money.
“I’ve been sending them numerous emails. No response. There’s no live person to talk to. I don’t know when my finances are going to be released,” McCracken says.
And she is not alone. Lots of people have complained to the Better Business Bureau that Cash App has locked them out of their accounts for weeks at a time.
News 12 contacted Cash App to find out why it locked out so many customers. A spokesperson said in a statement, "Cash App has protections in place that are designed to provide safety and security both for Cash App customers and for our Cash App system.
The occasional locking of customer accounts for investigations by our team are part of providing this safety and security."
The BBB says that Cash App claimed it locked out several accounts in May because of possible unemployment fraud.
“It’s outrageous that people are not able to quickly resolve their problems,” says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports. “This is people’s money at stake. That means they’re reliant on these services to eat, to buy medicine, to keep a roof over their head.”
Tetreault says that part of the problem is that mobile payment apps often use “no human contact” customer service. McCracken sent dozens of emails and online requests and finally had her account unlocked after six weeks.
“There’s no live person to talk to. That’s what makes me regret trusting them with my money,” she says.
Experts tell News 12 that peer-to-peer apps are generally safe, but that there are some things to keep in mind when picking one.
You generally won’t get the same fraud protection you will get from a bank, so consider enabling security features like passcodes or fingerprint readers.
Find out about customer service options in advance. Not all apps offer phone numbers.
If the app does not offer a customer service number on its website, don’t trust numbers you may find on social media or online forums. Experts say that they are probably scams.


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