CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mobile payment apps like Venmo and Zelle are popular right now, especially with more people looking for touch-free ways to pay due to COVID-19, but like any business, they're vulnerable to scammers.
There's a new scam floating around and it might just pop up on your phone like any other text message. Scammers are preying on folks who are still out of work or in the middle of a job transition with false promises of free money. They look enticing but don't jump too fast. Remember, money doesn't just fall from the sky, even if it is human nature to think it's your lucky day.
"I gave it to them. I am not sure why I did it. Desperate, I guess," said a woman who fell victim to a scammer.
Detectives hear stories like that all the time, from people who say they should've known better and they can't believe they were scammed or got hacked.
Even I got one of those text messages promising free money. At first, I thought, "wow, $100." Then I saw "survey" and a blue link.
At that point I knew, this is probably a scam and I shouldn't click it. I immediately told friends who use the same service and told them not to fall for it if they get the same message.
"What feedback we have received from Venmo is to lock down your security settings," Tom Bartholomy with the Charlotte Better Business Bureau said.
Bartholomy said the BBB sees scams like this daily. In fact, someone in his office got the same exact message.
"There is no reason not to strengthen your security settings. It's not like you'll miss anything on a social media app, you just have to toughen them up," Bartholomy said.
The scams all use means to lure you. It might look like it's from Social Security, the IRS at tax time, or it may even look like it's from a popular store during the holidays or back-to-school shopping.
As for this particular text citing Venmo and a free $100, it's a scam. To be safe, if you get this message, change your password immediately.
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These often pop up as emails and text messages. Just don't be fooled into thinking they're real, even if it's from your favorite store or service.
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