Cash App functions as a substitute bank for many of its more than 36 million monthly users.
“I had to sell my car seat that I just bought for my baby that I’m going to have in a couple of months, so that I could feed my kids, because I have no money now,” Shania Jensen, 24, a Cash App user from Utah, said about her account shortly after it was drained of nearly $3,000.
Jensen, one of six Cash App customers who recently told Yahoo Finance they were targeted by unauthorized transactions, said when she went to bed on the evening of March 5 her money was in her account, and by 7 a.m. the next day, it was gone. She said she filed a police report, a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and reported the matter to Utah’s attorney general.
Mobile payment platforms such as Cash App, as well as PayPal (PYPL), PayPal’s Venmo, Google Pay, and bank owned Zelle, have seen a rise in downloads during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the increase, a jump in the number of app reviews mentioning the word “scam” or “fraud” for all except Zelle, according to mobile intelligence firm Apptopia.
Cash App — which accounted for nearly half of Square’s profit in the most recent quarter — stands out for its wide range of available transactions. It accepts direct deposits for paychecks and government stimulus funds, processes peer-to-peer transfers, offers its own branded debit card, and permits users to buy and sell stock and bitcoin (BIT-USD) within the app (as of March 17, it lets users send bitcoin to other Cash App users for free).
The six Cash App customers said repeated efforts to talk directly with a human being at the company to help them get their money back were largely unsuccessful, exhausting, and stressful. Cash App acknowledges that it has no live phone support “generally available,” but says it views fighting fraud as critically important and has invested in technology to flag potential scams.
‘85% of the apps we look at have some sort of security or privacy issue’
Over the past year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has “closed” or looked into 2,485 complaints concerning Cash App, and 3,532 concerning Square, where customers have also logged Cash App complaints. Complaints handled concerning Venmo for the same timeframe totaled 928, for Zelle 83. PayPal, which has 377 million active accounts, had 7,215 complaints.
Though the BBB does not disclose its volume of pending complaints, Lori Wilson, president and CEO of the BBB’s San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California chapters, said the number of closed complaints is “probably” the metric that best reflects total complaints.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), over the past three years, the agency received 1,559 complaints concerning Cash App’s parent company, Square, under which any Cash App complaints are filed. The majority of the complaints involved money transfer, virtual currency, or money services issues.
Mobile intelligence firm Apptopia says certain payment apps have been flooded with scams since the pandemic. Total mentions of the words “fraud” or “scam” in app user reviews jumped 335% for Cash App in February 2021, compared with February 2020. PayPal saw a 191% increase and Venmo saw a jump of 84%. Zelle, however, declined 9%.
Of course, mere mentions of the words fraud or scams in reviews can’t reveal precisely how vulnerable an app is, according to computer forensics expert Andrew Hoog of mobile app…