HOUSTON – More and more people are losing 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 may be a way to get it refunded.
Kristine Rathburn thought she was sending money to a soldier abroad, but Social Catfish investigators discovered it was a scammer in Nigeria.
“He kept asking me for money for his son. I sent a little bit here and there,” Rathburn said. She says those payments totaled nearly $2,000.
Thousands and thousands of people have lost a lot of money to scammers. You’ll be asked to send payments through apps like Celle, Cash App, Paypal, and Venmo. Like Rathburn, many victims say they don’t get their money back through the app or bank.
“I wish they could do more, but you can’t get your money back once you’ve sent it,” Rathburn said.
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But consumer advocate Christopher Elliott of Elliott Advocacy points out that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says banks should compensate victims through electronic money transfer regulations.
“The law is called Regulation E, and it says if you make a mistake and send someone money, the bank has to step in for you, just like they do in a credit card dispute,” Elliot said.
However, TrustedSec cybersecurity expert Alex Hamerstone explains that many banks say Regulation E doesn’t apply to fraud.
“If someone breaks into your account, gets your password, gets into your account and takes your money, that’s considered fraud. However, cheating is when you press that button to send money,” Hamerstone explained. “You have very limited options.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren and other lawmakers last week blasted bank CEOs for failing to refund cheated customers and are urging the CFPB to close the regulatory loophole.
In the meantime, Hamerstone suggests that you do not send money to anyone who contacts you via text message, phone call or email for any reason. “If they’re putting pressure on you and creating 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.
Cell: Contact customer service at 1-844-428-8542 or use the 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 function in the app. Open your profile and select Help. You can also email Venmo using a contact form or call 1-855-812-4430.
PayPal: You can file a complaint through PayPal’s Resolution Center or by calling 1-888-221-1161.