If you use payment apps like Venmo, CashApp or Zelle, federal scam experts want you to read this

Scammers are posing as your bank on Zelle to steal your cash: FTC

News4JAX has shared warnings before about using payment apps like Venmo, CashApp or Zelle. The convenience is great, but it’s important to know who is on the other end of your transaction.

The Federal Trade Commission is issuing a fresh alert, pointing out that scammers are now using Zelle — a bank-to-bank transfer app — to pose as your bank and tell you there’s a problem with your account.

To “protect” your account, the scammer tells you step-by-step instructions to transfer money from your bank account into a new account in your name. But that new account really belongs to the scammer, so after you make the transfer, your money will be gone.

We know, that sounds terrifying, but the FTC says the truth is, sending money through a payment app is like sending cash — it’s very hard to get it back.

Scammers take advantage of emotions like fear and compassion -- often pretending to be a loved one who’s in trouble and asking for money to deal with an emergency. Or a scammer might prey on your hope, saying you won a prize or a sweepstakes but need to pay some fees to collect it.

That’s why you MUST make sure you know who you’re sending money to when you use a payment app.

If you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with a scammer, contact the person, bank or business at a phone number you know to be real to ask if they sent you the request. And know that your bank will never contact you to tell you to transfer money or to ask for personal information or passcodes. Learn more at ftc.gov/phishing.

And don’t pay someone who insists that you can only pay with a gift card, cryptocurrency, payment app, or a wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. If you think you paid a scammer, report it to the payment app. Then report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Learn more at ftc.gov/paymentapps.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.