Venmo transfer you didn’t authorize? Criminals and thieves have gotten more sophisticated with the
use of technology. While online payment apps – like Zelle and Vemno - usually provide a convenient
service, sometimes they are abused to steal money out of your bank account.
There is a law - the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) - that protects consumers from banking errors
and unauthorized transfers.
But it is important to note that not all transactions are covered, and it is your responsibility as the
consumer to act first in order to trigger EFTA’s protections.
Although the EFTA doesn't cover paper check transactions - it does cover most common electronic
transactions such as
- ATM Transactions
- ACH Transactions (e-checks)
- Debit card purchases
- Wire Transfers
So, what about those popular payment apps like Venmo, Cashapp, or Zelle? Generally, the EFTA applies
to those too, but there are some limitations.
Typically, fraud is due to a lost or stolen debit card or identity theft. In some cases, an identity thief has
enough debit card information to make online purchases. In other cases, the thief has enough personal
identifying information to trick the bank into giving them access to the consumer’s accounts. Some
identity thieves will even call a consumer posing as a bank employee and trick them into revealing their
usernames, passwords, and pins. In general, EFTA will protect the consumer when this happens.
The EFTA does not cover situations where the consumer knowingly provided access to a device or debit
card. For example, if a consumer gave a loved one their debit card to buy groceries, and that loved one
took it to the casino instead - that's not covered. The EFTA also does not cover voluntary transactions
initiated by the consumer where the recipient is a fraudster. That is where consumers need to be
particularly careful when using payment apps like Zelle and Venmo. If a fraudster can convince you - the
consumer - to send them money through one of these apps, the EFTA will not protect you. Moreover,
most banks include language in their consumer agreements where they expressly disclaim liability for
these types of transactions.
As a consumer - you need to notify your bank within 60 days of a transaction appearing on a statement
to be protected by EFTA. If you have a device that was lost or stolen with access to your account
information you should notify your bank within 2 days to ensure protection for future transactions. A
lost or stolen cellphone with a payment app may be considered the same way, and you should treat it as
If you have recently had unauthorized payment app transactions on your account, we encourage you to
reach out to speak with an attorney at no cost to you. We may find a way to help you.
You can call Jim Feagle at 404 373 1978 or Kris Skaar at 770 427 5600.