Do you use payment apps? Make sure you, your money are protected from scams

Woman deals with hackers who drained her Cash App

HOUSTON – You don't carry cash. And who uses a checkbook anymore?

Especially considering all the payment apps that are available these days: PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Cash App, to name a few of the popular "peer-to-peer" apps that let you send and receive money with just a few taps. This is the new face of finance.

Ask nearly anyone. One Houston man said, "I use it to transfer money to my family members, brothers or sisters -- whatever."

Another Houston woman said it’s all she uses these days.

"No one carries cash anymore, everyone is like, 'Do you have Cash App? Do you have Venmo?' It makes it quick (and) easy."

It also takes the stress out of splitting the tab with friends.

"It's easy to exchange money and you're not in debt with your friends," another Houston man said.

You can send money to a relative, shop online or pay bills. That's what Darnell Dykes planned to do when she logged into her Cash App account a few months ago.

“I was gonna make a payment with my Cash App card,” Dykes said.

It seemed to be a pretty routine task, but Dykes said she had trouble, so she called the customer service number on the back of her Cash App debit card.

For some context, Cash App is one of the apps that will issue you a payment card connected to your account, so that you can pay with a physical card in case you don't want to be transferring money to and from your bank constantly.

And what happened next left Dykes without hundreds of dollars.

“When I called customer service, that's when I was told in order to transfer the money, that I had to go to a Rite Aid store to purchase the Google cards," she said.

Dykes was being targeted by scammers. The person on the phone told her in order to access the money already in her account, she had to buy a Google Play card and load even more money onto it.

Unfortunately, she fell for it.

“I gave him the numbers on the back of the Google cards," Dykes said. "He told me, 'It'll be about an hour.' (And he advised ) If the money isn't in the account in about an hour, to call back.”

Darnell called back and the scammers demanded even more money.

Then, things got ugly.

“Well, you stupid b----, f--- you, you not getting no money. I'm not sending you s---.”

Leah Napoliello of the Better Business Bureau said what happened to Dykes was just one of many scams targeting users of payment apps.

Dykes is still not sure how the scammers hacked into the Cash App customer service hotline, but Cash App at least admits it's happening, when you call and get its prerecorded message.

Napoliello has another warning, if you're using these apps to accept payment for something you're selling: It comes with risk.

“Sometimes it's a scammer and they will use fraudulent payment to purchase the item," Napoliello said. "So, they'll steal a credit card for instance and then pay that way, and then you send whatever item they purchased back to them and then you later find out it's paid for with a stolen credit card, so you're not getting your money."

She suggested waiting a few days to make sure the payment clears before sending the item you're selling. And Napoliello offered one final warning, this time concerning "overpayment scams."

This happens when scammers use a stolen credit card to pay you for an item you're selling online.

They purposely overpay you, but then ask you to return the overpayment along with what they just purchased from you. 

“So essentially, you've lost your item and you've paid them additional money too, so they really scammed you in two ways," she said.

Dykes said the scammers locked her out of her account and drained it.

She's hoping Cash App will cover her losses.

“I've heard of people being scammed before, but I never knew they would scam you while they're on the phone with you and walking you through things, you know?” Dykes said.

Our team called Cash App regarding Dykes' story, but hasn't received a response. The BBB suggested people should read the policies and procedures, and the dispute process, before signing up for a payment app. Never link a payment app to your bank account, the BBB added, saying you should use a credit card instead.