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Charee Mobley, who teaches middle school in Fort Worth, had just $166 to get herself and her 17-year-old daughter through the last two weeks of August.
But that money disappeared when Mobley, 37, ran into an issue with Square’s Cash App, an instant payments app that she was using to pay her bills and do her banking during the coronavirus pandemic.
After seeing an errant online shopping charge on her Cash App, Mobley called what she thought was a help line. But the line had been set up by someone who asked her to download some software, which then took control of the app and drained her account.
“I didn’t have gas money, and I couldn’t pay my daughter’s senior dues,” Mobley said. “We basically just had to stick it out until I got paid the following week.”
During the pandemic, people have flocked to instant payment apps like Cash App, PayPal’s Venmo and Zelle as they have wanted to avoid retail bank branches and as online commerce has become more ingrained. To encourage that shift, the payment apps have added services such as debit cards and routing numbers so they work more like traditional banks.
But many people are unaware of …
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