Be Aware of P2P Risks When Paying for Groceries, Other Services During Pandemic
According to a new AARP survey of adults 18 and older, about two in three (66%) Connecticut consumers rely on peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms to send money to someone else’s account – a relatively quick and easy way to transfer money. Nationally, seven in ten (71%) of survey respondents rely on P2P payment methods.
The poll also found that more than half of those surveyed in Connecticut (55%) and the U.S. (52%) 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. This may especially be the case as more people use delivery services for groceries and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Scammers are following their playbook – using current events to find ways of stealing money or sensitive personal information,” said Erica Michalowski, AARP Connecticut community outreach director. “A growing number of consumers are turning to peer-to-peer payment platforms during the coronavirus pandemic, and while these methods are quick and easy, the survey shows a need for more education about the risks and how these platforms operate.”
A heightened fear and anxiety caused by the coronavirus is creating opportunities for criminals to exploit people, and AARP’s survey shows that many consumers may be at risk:
- Nearly seven in ten Connecticut adults (67%), and 71% of the respondents in the U.S., report using P2P payment platforms.
- More than half of those surveyed in Connecticut (55%) and the U.S. (52%) incorrectly answered a quiz question about being able to reclaim their money if they made an error while sending through a P2P payment platform.
- Many consumers are using P2P payment platforms to send money to people they don’t know. When making a purchase through an online bidding site, 42% of survey respondents in Connecticut and 53% across the U.S. send the money to a seller with whom they have previously never done business. In addition, 50% of Connecticut and 61% of U.S. adults send the money to a seller rated highly for fulfilment and delivery.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 14,000 reports of scams and fraud in Connecticut and nearly $14 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 Connecticut 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 was conducted by NORC, on behalf of AARP, from November 4-8, 2019. This report reflects results from a larger survey among 801 Connecticut adults ages 18 and older which highlights people’s experiences with peer-to-peer payment platforms. The survey has a sampling margin of error of ±4.6 percent. This survey was also conducted nationally and in three other states: Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. To view the national and state reports and/or the full study methodology for these studies, please go to www.aarp.org/p2prisks.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.