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Warning re peer to peer (P2P) payment applications

Be careful using peer to peer payment applications such as CashApp, Venmo, and Zelle. They do not have the same legal protections against fraudulent transactions and failure to provide goods and services as credit cards and (to a lesser extent than credit cards) debit cards. A fund transfer made using one of these applications is legally equivalent to a wire transfer. In simple English, it is the same as handing over cash. It takes effect immediately and you do not have any legal right to reverse it. Scammers are aware of this, which is why they seek to obtain payment using P2P apps.

If you have been induced by fraudulent means to transfer money using one of these applications, you should immediately contact your bank, the application, and the United States Government's Internet Crime Complaint Center (https://www.ic3.gov/). Sometimes it is possible to stop the transfer if it is caught immediately. But you do not have any right to dispute the transfer once it has taken place, if you were defrauded or simply did not receive the goods or services you bargained for. You do have that right with a credit or debit card (legal protections are stronger for credit cards than debit cards).

Also, if other types of transfers were used as part of the scam, such as credits to an account that were reversed by the scammer, it may sometimes be possible to take legal action with respect to those.

However, often nothing can be done. Therefore, P2P applications should never be used to transfer funds to someone you are not familiar with or to make a payment pursuant to a transaction in which you are to receive goods or services in exchange for the payment. You would also be well advised to speak to the transferee and make sure it is in fact the person you think it is.

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