By Dave Wall
In today’s digital world, most of what we do is somehow attached to our smartphones. From our communication and social media to shopping and dining, you probably use a mobile app to get things done. That includes banking. Most of your banking features are available on right in the palm of your hand, including the ability to send money instantly.
In a world where many of us pay for just about everything with mobile apps and credit cards, the one thing that isn’t quite as easy as making an online purchase is sending money – at least not until money transfer apps like Zelle launched. Zelle is one of several popular apps that can be attached to your bank account to send money to anyone you know instantly.
Whether it’s to easily split a lunch bill with friends, pay for your fantasy sports league, reimburse your Mom for a gift, pay your sitter, or any other reason, Zelle makes it as simple as handing cash over. The difference is you don’t have to worry about carrying cash and you can do it at any time using your bank’s mobile app. The only qualification is you and the other party both need to have Zelle connected to your bank accounts.
But, while P2P payment apps are very convenient, there are a few best practices you should follow to keep your money safe.
Use it like cash
Even though it’s a digital banking tool, think of Zelle like using cash. If you have $50 in your pocket, once you spend it, it’s gone. Once you send a payment through an app, you can’t cancel it. It’s like handing cash to someone – once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Only send to people you know and trust
Because you can’t cancel payments once they have been made, make sure you know who you’re sending money to and why, and make sure you are sending to the correct Zelle user. If you’re not sure, confirm with whomever you’re sending to. The instantaneous nature of these payments is one of their best features, but they can also work against you if you’re not careful.
Make sure you send money to the right person
Once you send, the money is gone, so you want to make sure you are sending to the right person. Many account names are very similar. It’s good practice to confirm the accounts you’re sending money to so your payment doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, and you have to send more to then get it to the right person.
Know your app policies
Some apps charge fees for certain kinds of transactions. Some charge for sending money using a credit card. Some charge for transferring money back into your bank account (Zelle does not). Regardless of what app(s) you are using, make sure you are aware of any fees you may be responsible for before you start sending or receiving money. Carefully reading the terms of service is a good place to start.
Beware of scams
Make sure you know what you are getting when you use payment apps. Scammers often try to get paid using apps because it’s very difficult for you to get funds back once they are sent. If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Also understand that reputable sellers will offer multiple payment options.
Use available security features
Remember that while you should spend money through payment apps like cash, they aren’t quite the same because they require access to your financial information. Make sure you are using the most recent version of your app, which should have the most up-to-date security updates. Also look at what security features you can enable on your app and enable those that give you the highest level of security.
Following these simple guidelines will help you protect your savings, while allowing you to enjoy the ease of P2P payments, so you can send money to anyone you know, for any reason, instantly.