WASHINGTON —According to a recent AARP Washington survey, nearly three in five (58%) Washington adults rely on peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms to transfer money in a relatively quick and easy manner. The poll also found that over half (54%) incorrectly believe they are able to reclaim money sent in error.

While the platforms are convenient, the difficulty of recovering funds sent through them makes the technology, and those who use it, uniquely vulnerable to scammers. This may especially be the case as more people use delivery services for groceries and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Things have changed so much in our day-to-day lives these past few months, including the way we purchase goods and services,” said AARP Washington State Director Doug Shadel. “In a time when we are being asked to go cashless, it is important for consumers to understand the risks and benefits of using peer-to-peer payment apps.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 36,000 reports of scams and fraud of all types in Washington with a total loss of $29 million in just the last year.

Common P2P payment platforms include PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Square, Google Pay and Apple Pay. The Peer to Peer Payment Practices and Associated Risks: A Washington Survey of Adults 18-plus details how often people are using these platforms, reasons for using them, and the risks associated with using them. The report also highlights the widespread misuse of P2P tools due to insufficient understanding of how the platforms work.

The survey findings include: 73% of Washington adults report using P2P payment platforms. Among those, users say they sometimes (37%), frequently (21%) or rarely (42%) use P2P payment platforms.

More education is needed to raise awareness on how P2P payment platforms operate. Over half (54%) of Washington adults incorrectly answered a quiz question about being able to reclaim your money if you make an error sending money through a P2P payment platform.

Washingtonians are using P2P payment platforms to send money to people they don’t know. When making a purchase through an online bidding site, over half (54%) send the money to a seller with whom they have previously never done business and almost half (47%) send the money to a seller rated highly for fulfillment and delivery.

The survey was conducted by NORC, on behalf of AARP, from November 4-8, 2019. This report reflects results from a larger survey among 893 Washington adults ages 18 and older which highlights people’s experiences with peer-to-peer payment platforms. The survey has a sampling margin of error of ±4.1 percent. This survey was also conducted nationally and in three other states: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. To view the national report and the full study methodology for these studies, please go to Peer to Peer Payment Practices and Associated Risks.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.