Financial Safety

Security Tips For Using Digital Payment Apps

Words by Abbie Dyer on Sep 28, 2023 10:28:28 AM

In a time when it feels like we’re constantly on the go, the convenience of being able to send money or make payments right from your phone can make life a little easier. But as with all technology, using digital payment apps also includes some risks. To help you stay safe and enjoy the conveniences of payment apps, our Risk Management Team shares a few simple security tips to follow.

Whether you need to send money to your child at college, pay your coworker for coffee, or need to pay your friend for your share of a group dinner, digital payment apps make it quick and easy to send and receive money. By eliminating the hassle of carrying cash or hoping your friend has change if you don’t have the exact cash, it’s no wonder that digital payment apps (like Venmo, Zelle®, and Cash App) have grown in popularity in the past few years.

Whether you already use a digital payment app or you’re thinking of signing up for one, make sure to keep these security tips in mind.

Safety Tips For Using Payment Apps

The Federal Trade Commission warns that sending money through a payment app is like sending cash – it’s very difficult to get your money back, if at all.1 That’s why it’s very important to only send money to people you know and trust. Here are a few additional tips to keep your money and accounts secure.

Verify personal information: Only send money to people you personally know and trust. Verify their contact information (name, mobile phone number, and email) before sending any payments.

Strengthen security settings: Keep your online accounts secure by creating a strong password with a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. And never reuse the same password on multiple sites.

If you have the option, enable multi-factor authentication on your account (you can usually find this option under your account security settings). With this option, a unique, one-time code is either texted or emailed to you. Or you’ll need to enter a unique code from an authentication app.

Enable biometrics: While in your security settings, see if there’s an option to enable biometrics. This means that you’ll need to enter a passcode, fingerprint, or to use facial recognition before sending any payments.

Stay off public Wi-Fi: Most public Wi-Fi networks (like the free Wi-Fi offered by many stores, restaurants, airports, etc.) are not secure. This means that someone can easily intercept your personal or financial information while you’re connected to the network. It’s much safer to send payments on a secure network, like the one you most likely have at home. If you must connect to public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN), which can add an extra layer of security to your device.

Common Scams Involving Payment Apps

With the rise in popularity of digital payment apps, scammers now have another opportunity to try to trick people into sharing their personal information or handing over money. Here are a few common tactics that fraudsters attempt to use on their victims.

Loved one in danger: Scammers love to use a sense of urgency to try to get you to act. They may pose as a friend or family member in trouble in the hopes that they can convince you to send money to them right away.1

Tip: If you’re ever contacted by someone you know who is asking for immediate payment (especially if the request comes from a strange email or phone number), verify the facts before acting. Call the person at the phone number you have saved for them and ask if they actually contacted you.

Account error: Scammers may call you and pretend to be your financial institution or a representative from a payment app. They might say there’s a problem with your account and may ask you to verify your login credentials, account details, or personal information. Phishing emails and text messages work in a similar way by asking you to click a malicious link and type in your login credentials.

Tip: Lake Trust and other financial institutions will never contact you and ask for your username, password, authentication codes, or account numbers. Don’t click on links in emails or text messages from strange sources, especially if they have an urgent or threatening tone. If you think there’s a problem with your account, contact your financial institution or the payment app at the customer service number listed on their website.

 Advance payments: If you’re buying an item from a local sale site (like Facebook Marketplace) or an online sale site (like eBay) and the seller insists you pay for the item with a payment app before you receive the item, this might be a red flag.2 Scammers often try this tactic to get people to send money quickly. But then they never actually ship the item or meet the buyer.3

Tip: Only send money to people you personally know and trust. If you’re buying an item locally, don’t pay for it until you’ve met the seller and inspected the item. If you’re buying an item online, use the payment methods offered by the site.

Zelle®’s Safety Education Center2,4 is a great resource to learn more about common payment app scams and red flags you should consider before sending any money.

Other Security Tips

You are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing fraud. Stop, think, and do some quick research if a situation doesn’t feel right. Scammers often use an urgent or threatening tone in their communication to try to trick or scare people into handing over money or sensitive information.

If you have questions about communication you received from us, a transaction on your account, or a general security question, our team is always here to help. We can also support you if you have questions about using Zelle® with your Lake Trust accounts.5 Give us a call at 888.267.7200, visit at any Lake Trust branch, or start a secure chat with us in Online Banking. We’re here for you.

SEE ALSO: 7 Easy Steps You Can Take Today To Keep Your Online Accounts Secure  |  5 Common Scams That Play Off Of Your Common Sense


1Federal Trade Commission. (2023, August 14). Do you use payment apps like Venmo, CashApp, or Zelle®? Read this. Retrieved from


2Zelle®. (2023). Zelle® Safety Education Center. 


3Rascoe, Ayesha. (2023, January 22). How to stay safe while using digital payment services like Zelle® and Venmo. NPR. Retrieved from


4Third-party website. Lake Trust Credit Union is not responsible for the content, availability, security, or compliance of any linked third-party websites. In addition, the site's privacy policy may differ from those of Lake Trust. 


5U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled users typically occur in minutes. To send or receive money with a small business, both parties must be enrolled with Zelle® directly through their financial institution’s online or mobile banking experience.


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