More people than ever are picking up their phones to make payments. And with the coronavirus crisis, more money is changing hands at a social distance thanks to money transfer apps. But one Hartford man has a warning because hundreds of his hard-earned dollars didn’t make it into the right hands.
“I mean, I was a huge Cash App fan,” said Eric Crawford, who currently runs a family resource center in Hartford.
The former member of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles joined NBC CT Responds after experiencing a problem with the money transfer app.
“$ 500 for anyone is a decent amount of money, but it didn’t change my life, but life would have changed for someone in my community.”
Crawford said he sent a $ 450 payment to his son Kevin’s fitness trainer earlier this year through the Cash app, a payment he’d made periodically to Kevin through that app.
“The coach calls me and says, ‘Eric, you didn’t pay the money for your son.” And I said, “Yeah, I did.”
Crawford said after checking his Cash App account history, he found that the Kevin who received the payment wasn’t the same Kevin he was in his phone contacts.
“No phone number, nothing, it was just like someone immediately put some kind of fake Kevin on the screen to throw you off,” Crawford said.
Crawford contacted Cash App customer service via email but said that after investigating his account history, he closed the case for authorizing the transaction.
Even though the money was withdrawn from his bank account, the payment appears to be pending in the app to this day.
“Where’s the money? He never got it. There’s no email confirmation that I even sent it to the wrong person,” Crawford said.
NBC Connecticut can’t confirm if the other Kevin ever received the money, what that person’s intentions were, or if it was a user error, but Crawford firmly believes it wasn’t his fault.
The Cash app says that if a customer sends money to someone they think isn’t on their contact list, they’ll send a double prompt to make sure they want to send money to the account.
Crawford says it didn’t and his transaction didn’t trigger the typical email notification he usually receives when making a payment.
Cash App will not comment on individual cases, but emails to Crawford suggested that their account should continue to be secured.
In a statement, a Cash App spokesperson said: “Fraud prevention is critical to Cash App. We continue to invest in and strengthen anti-fraud resources by both adding staff and introducing new technology. We are constantly improving systems and controls to prevent, detect and report bad activity on the platform. “
The Attorney General and the Ministry of Consumer Protection warn that there are risks associated with using online payment apps.
“Remember, when you sign up for a credit card or bank account, there is usually adequate protection for those products that you are paying for, by the way,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
He says there’s a reason this app and others like Venmo and PayPal have minimal fees.
“When you sign up for something that’s faster, cheaper, easier, everything is faster, cheaper, easier.”
And with that, says Tong, you can’t expect great customer service either.
Tong’s office says they have received eight complaints about Cash App since this summer.
“We’re definitely looking into it and I’m talking to other states about it because even if it’s not illegal it doesn’t make it right, but at the end of the day you’re the downside of that with something that’s an online app. It’s not a bank. It’s not a credit card company, ”said Tong.
He and the state consumer protection ministry urge users of these apps to be careful.
“When you make payments through an app, the entire responsibility rests with you,” said DCP Deputy Commissioner Arunan Aulampalam.
They say double and triple check whoever you’re sending money, including all of the username details.
DCP also warns against sending money to people you do not know.
“Make sure you double-check wherever you’re sending the money, as the same way it will give an envelope to someone you don’t know. You are literally passing money on to someone else, and once that money is out of your hands, it’s a lot harder to get back. “
In addition, it is important to use passwords that are as secure as possible and two-factor identification whenever possible.
Crawford says his bank fortunately made up for his loss, but he hopes telling his story will educate the community and help make changes with these apps in the future.
If he had known what he knows now, he would never have used a money transfer app.
“This is our hard earned money. We already have this pandemic and everything else is underway, ”he said.
From now on, he’s going to pay Kevin the old-fashioned way.
“I’m going back to the old checks and paying cash. I think that’s the safest thing to do. “
Cash App will notify NBC Connecticut that if you believe you may have been a victim of fraud you should contact NBC Connecticut through App Support or their website. They say the Cash app never asks customers to send them money. Additionally, they said they will never request a customer’s PIN or login code outside of the app.