AARP PA Survey Finds Most Adults Using Payment Apps Unaware of Danger Posed by Scammers

According to a new AARP Pennsylvania survey, two in three people (67%) rely on peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms to transfer money in a relatively quick and easy manner. The poll also found that almost three in five (57%) believe they are able to reclaim money sent in error.

While the platforms are convenient, the difficulty of recovering funds sent through them makes the technology, and those who use it, uniquely vulnerable to scammers. The problem may be particularly prevalent as more people use delivery services for groceries and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Scam artists continue to prey on public fears and anxieties during the pandemic,” said AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh. “Consumers need to learn the risks associated with peer-to-peers payment platforms and proceed with caution before sending money to someone you don’t know.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 52,000 reports of scams and fraud in Pennsylvania and nearly $37 million lost to fraud last year.

Common P2P payment platforms include PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Square, Google Pay and Apple Pay. The Peer to Peer Payment Practices and Associated Risks: A Pennsylvania Survey of Adults 18-plus details how often people are using these platforms, reasons for using them, and the risks associated with using them. The report also highlights the widespread misuse of P2P tools due to insufficient understanding of how the platforms work.

The survey findings include:

  • 64% of Pennsylvania adults report using P2P payment platforms. Among those, users say they sometimes (43%), frequently (24%) or rarely (33%) use P2P payment platforms.
  • More education is needed to raise awareness on how P2P payment platforms operate. Almost three in five (57%) of Pennsylvania adults incorrectly answered a quiz question about being able to reclaim your money if you make an error sending money through a P2P payment platform.
  • Pennsylvania are using P2P payment platforms to send money to people they don’t know. When making a purchase through an online bidding site, over half (55%) send the money to a seller with whom they have previously never done business and two in five (46%) send the money to a seller rated highly for fulfillment and delivery.