HOUSTON – More people continue to lose money to scammers asking them to send it through payment apps like Zelle and Cash App, and they can’t get that money back, but consumer advocates say there might be a way to get him paid back.
Kristine Rathburn thought she was sending money to a soldier overseas, but Social Catfish, a company dedicated to preventing online scams via reverse search technology, helped her find out he was a scammer in Nigeria.
Thousands and thousands of people have lost a lot of money to the scammers. They are encouraged to send payments through apps such as Zelle, Cash App, Paypal, and Venmo. Like Rathburn, many victims say they can’t get their money back through the app or the bank.
“I wish they could do more, but you can’t get your money back once you send it,” Rathburn said.
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But consumer advocate Christopher Elliott of Elliott Defense points out that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) indicates that banks should reimburse victims through a regulation governing electronic funds transfers.
“The law is called Regulation Eand it says if you made a mistake and sent someone money, the bank should fight for you the same way they do for a credit card dispute,” Elliot said.
However, cybersecurity expert Alex Hamerstone with TrustedSec explains that many banks say Regulation E does not apply to scams.
“If someone accesses your account, they get your password, access your account and take your money, it is considered fraud. However, scams, if you press this button to send money,” Hamerstone explained, “you have very limited recourse.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other lawmakers just slammed bank CEOs last week for failing to refund defrauded customers and are calling on the CFPB to fill the regulatory vacuum.
In the meantime, Hamerstone suggests not sending money to anyone who contacts you via text, phone call, or email for any reason. “When they pressure you and create that sense of urgency, it’s going to be a scam,” he said.
Rathburn also warns, “Just don’t send money to people you’ve never met before.”
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Some payment apps and banks may refund fraudulent payments on a case-by-case basis.
Zelle: Contact customer service at 1-844-428-8542 or use their online contact form.
Cash app: You can chat with them through their app. Go to your profile and select Support. You can also go to cash.app/help or call 1-800-969-1940.
Venmo: Venmo also has a chat feature on the app. Open your profile and choose Get Help. You can also email Venmo through a contact form or call 1-855-812-4430.
PayPal: You can file a complaint through the PayPal Resolution Center or call 1-888-221-1161.