TDCI Offers Tips for Individuals Using Person-to-Person Payment Systems

Consumer Affairs Division Offers Information, Tips for Electronic Fund Transfer Services

 Sending and receiving money is easier than ever before thanks to electronic fund transfers, often called person-to-person (or P2P) payment systems. Person-to-person payment systems, like PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle, allow consumers to link bank accounts, debit cards, and/or credit cards in order to send and receive money to another party via mobile and desktop applications.

While these P2P programs offer great convenience, they can lead to potential hassles or worse for unsuspecting consumers. To help consumers navigate the P2P landscape, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs is offering tips to consumers who utilize P2P services.

 “Person-to-person payment systems may offer convenience, but consumers should take the same precautions with these applications that they would with their bank accounts,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Each company provides varying levels of account and purchase protection. Tennesseans should always conduct their research before selecting a P2P system.”

Unscrupulous individuals can use person-to-person payment systems to perpetrate scams if consumers aren’t careful. For example, if the person you are purchasing a good or service from asks that money be sent through PayPal as a “Friends and Family” transaction, proceed with caution. While this method doesn’t charge the seller fees, consumers have no buyer protection in case of fraud. This scam is particularly popular for Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist transactions. Additionally, some fraudulent individuals offer P2P services for online purchases because they can charge the individual before the item ships. Always pay close attention if the seller charges for the product before it is shipped out.

To help you make the most of person-to-person payment systems, TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs offers the following tips:

UTILIZE SECURITY MEASURES

Many services offer multi-step verification. This includes adding a PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition in addition to a password. It’s best to use as many forms of authentication possible for the best protection.

CREATE UNIQUE PASSWORDS

Avoid using the same or similar passwords for various financial accounts. Ensure your person-to-person accounts utilize different passwords than your bank accounts.

OPT-IN FOR TRANSACTION NOTIFICATIONS

Being notified of outgoing payments could provide an early warning that someone has accessed your account. Many P2P services offer email, text, or push notifications that send you an alert when money is debited or credited to your account. Ensure these are turned on in your user settings.

ONLY SEND AND RECEIVE PAYMENTS WITH PEOPLE YOU KNOW

Never send money using the “family and friends” option if you don’t know the person. Although “service or good” transactions charges the recipient a fee, they may also provide fraud protection. If the transaction turns out to be a scam and it wasn’t processed as a “service or good” transaction, the payment won’t fall under the fraud protection policy.

RESEARCH THE COMPANY

If you are using a P2P service to purchase goods or services, research the company or individual with whom you are looking to do business. Ask former customers or conduct an Internet search for previous customer reviews.

DOUBLE CHECK THE RECIPIENT

A typo in the username, email address, or phone number could cause you to send money to the wrong person. Check for errors before submitting the payment.

UNDERSTAND THE FEES AND PROTECTION POLICIES BEFORE HITTING ‘SEND’

There are several platforms with various ways to send and receive money. Some companies charge if you use a credit or debit card for transactions and for transactions out the United States. Others charge a fee for the product or service, but don’t offer any purchase protection. Research each company you are considering and their policies before signing up and linking your bank account or credit card.

Source: Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’