NBC News reports that over 90 million Americans use person-to-person (P2P) payment apps to send money to friends and family. There’s a good chance that you have one of these P2P apps, such as Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, Facebook Messenger or Zelle, on your smartphone.

If you use P2P apps regularly, you already know how convenient they are for situations like splitting checks at restaurants, paying your friend for that last-minute Cardinals ticket and even completing transactions at retail establishments. P2P apps are so popular that Americans made about $147 billion in transfers last year using them last year states the Los Angeles Times.

According to Consumer Reports, these apps are safe to use (with some being safer than others). While P2P apps are reliable overall, there are extra steps you can take to keep your financial and personal information secure when using them.

1. Make sure to download the latest version of the app

Just like the Arsenal mobile app and other apps that handle your personal information, the latest version will always have the most up-to-date security features. Before making a transaction, make sure there are no updates available in your phone’s settings.

2. Download your P2P app only from a trusted source

Scammers create fake apps to steal your money and information, and they’re really good at making their bogus programs look and act just like the real ones. When downloading a P2P app, make sure to do it from either the App Store, Google Play or directly from the app’s own website.

Side note: If you’re downloading the Arsenal app for mobile banking, you can find it on our website or by typing in “Arsenal Credit Union” into the App Store or Google Play.

3. Make sure to send your money to the right person

Once you hit the “Send” button, your money is gone. Before finalizing a transaction, double check that you’re sending funds to the correct recipient. Some apps (mainly Apple Pay) have you confirm each transaction before sending, while others just let you send without confirming.

4. Send money only to people you know and trust

Just like the days of Nigerian princes asking you to send them money, there will always be people trying to scam you through tech. Only use P2P apps to send money to people you actually know. If someone requests money from you and you’re not sure it’s actually them who wants it, call or text to make sure before sending.

5. Don’t carry a balance

Many P2P apps claim it’s easier to store your money with them so it’s faster to transfer it when you need to. If someone hacks into your app, this money is not insured by any federal agency. Keep your money in your Arsenal account, which the NCUA insures at least $250,000.

6. Read the Terms of Service (ToS)

It’s painful, but you need to do it. The fine print before you press “Agree” is a legal contract. If you don’t read it, a mobile app can use your information in very unexpected ways, leaving you no recourse. Find out what the company plans to do with your information before using the product, and make sure you’re okay with it.

7. Turn your transactions to private

If you use Venmo, one of the main features of the app is its social feed that displays the transactions of everyone you’re connected with. Don’t want everyone you know to see your transactions? Turn the settings to private. Just go to the Menu > Settings > Privacy and change your settings to Public, Friends or Private.

8. Don’t use P2P for business

Most P2P apps state in their ToS that they do not allow business transactions. If you’re just selling a one-off item on Craigslist, don’t consider the transaction complete until the money is in your bank account.

9. Customize your app’s security settings

Does your preferred P2P app have an option for entering a password before you can send money? Use it. Does it have a fingerprint feature? Use it. These settings help to make sure you’re the one sending money in case your mobile device gets lost or stolen.

10. Optimize your phone’s security settings

Just like the above tip, create passwords, PINs and enable fingerprint access whenever you can. Also, make sure not to make transactions on public Wi-Fi networks where hackers can easily access your information.

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