As a payment app, Cash App handles people’s money and personal information, both of which are valuable targets for today’s cybercriminals. That’s why you should do your due diligence before signing up. This article will give you everything you need to know about Cash App’s safety and security, including how safe it is, the risks associated with using it, and how you can enjoy a more secure Cash App experience.
Is Cash App Safe?
Generally speaking, Cash App is safe (with a few caveats we’ll go over). The platform combines encryption with advanced fraud detection to ensure the safety of its users’ money and personal data. It uses encryption to secure customers’ data in transit to its servers, and a fraud detection algorithm to detect suspicious transactions.
Another thing to note is that Cash App is compliant with Level 1 of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Sounds fancy, right? That means it complies with applicable security requirements to minimize the risk to the Visa system. This security standard applies to any business that stores, processes, and transmits credit card and cardholder information. Since Cash App is Level 1 compliant — the highest level there is — it’s certified as fully capable of securely processing over 6 million transactions per year1.
All that considered, however, Cash App is not without downsides and risks. In the next section, we’ll discuss the risks you might encounter while using Cash App.
Cash App and Safety Risks
Payment apps are prime targets for scammers and fraudsters looking to run off with peoples’ hard-earned money. We discussed this when we assessed PayPal’s safety and Venmo’s safety, and Cash App is similar in many ways.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, COVID-related scams proliferated, and Cash App users were severely affected. According to the Federal Trade Commission, complaints against Cash App skyrocketed by 472 percent in 2020 compared to 20191. The main driving factor of those complaints, however, wasn’t Cash App itself, but rather the fact that scammers used the payment app for fraudulent transactions.
Here are just a few of the scams and MOs fraudsters use to lure Cash App users into sending them money. For a more complete list, head over to our guide to the latest internet scams.
- Fake phone support: When Cash App reduced its workforce during the pandemic, scammers quickly filled in by posting fake phone support numbers. If someone called in, the scammer would ask for sign-in credentials, Cash Card details, or any valuable information they could use to commit identity theft or steal Cash App funds.
- #CashAppFriday: In 2019, Cash App started doing Twitter sweepstakes on Fridays, identified by the hashtag #CashAppFriday. Scammers, however, created fake threads using the official hashtag, and then notified “winners” that they have to send a small amount to a Cash App account to claim their prizes.
- Fake grants and programs: Similar to fake Cash App Friday scams, scammers also use phony grants and programs to steal funds. For example, a scammer might contact you on social media and tell you that you’ll receive a prize for being vaccinated against COVID. Before you get the prize, however, you’ll need to send a small amount of money. These phony programs seem plausible because there are similar, legitimate programs.
- Quick-cash investment scams: With rising living costs, it’s easy to see why this type of scam is so common. Scammers contact their victims through social media, offering them investment schemes that would turn $10 into hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They say they will invest the money to make it grow, perhaps in cryptocurrencies or NFTs, but that’s only a ploy to entice victims to send them funds.
- Fake listings: Cash App is especially vulnerable to scammers who use fake product listings but don’t intend to deliver to buyers. You’ll often meet these types of scammers in online marketplaces, where they sell products but accept Cash App only. Cash App is one of their favorite payment apps because it doesn’t offer buyer protection. There’s little you can do to get your money back if the item you paid for doesn’t arrive.
FYI: While most scams result in only minimal financial losses, a Cash App user in North Carolina lost $24,000 to fake phone support scammers. The scammers got the money he had stored in his Cash App account, plus more than $2,000 from his checking account linked to Cash App.
Cash App and Identity Theft
Money isn’t the only thing that can be stolen from you. For decades now, identity theft has caused major headaches to individuals and families. In 2021 alone, the FTC received almost 1.4 million reports of identity theft3.
Identity thieves target people’s personal information, online accounts, Social Security numbers, and a bunch of other types of personally identifiable information. For Cash App users, phishing is the No. 1 risk, which could lead to the hacking of their Cash App account and loss of funds.
Phishing attacks involve social engineering. Cybercriminals use different means — such as emails, texts (also known as “smishing”), and social media — to execute phishing attacks. The goal is to cajole their victim into giving them account information. They can get pretty creative. They could pose as a Cash App representative, use copycat websites that look like Cash App’s official site, or write emails that mimic a system-generated notice from Cash App. No matter the means, they’re out to get your Cash App login credentials.
Once they have your login credentials, they can either log in to your account and steal your funds, or sell your account information on the dark web. Either way, they’ll come away the winner and you the loser.
Expert Tip: To protect yourself from phishing, we recommend signing up with an identity protection service. This type of service monitors your personal, financial, and credit information to detect signs of identity theft. They look at areas where stolen identities and account information often end up, such as the dark web and online marketplaces. We recommend Aura due to its proactive approach that includes antivirus software and a virtual private network (VPN). You can read our Aura review for more information.
Avoiding Cash App Scams
We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that Cash App can do little to prevent scams from happening. To its credit, Cash App has safety measures to — at the very least — discourage scammers from using its platform. It now requires identity verification to access certain features, it has a fraud detection algorithm in place, and it publishes safety tips online. However, scammers don’t target their victims on Cash App itself, but through other means of communication, like social media sites and emails. Those are beyond Cash App’s control.
The good news is that you are in control. You can avoid falling victim to scams simply by being a mindful and vigilant internet user. The following tips can help you with that.
- If something is too good to be true, it probably is. We’ve heard this advice hundreds of times, and it’s sound. If someone offers you quick cash, prizes, investments, or any incentive that sounds too good to be true, it’s better to steer clear.
- Check the email address of the sender. Phishing scammers may be able to imitate Cash App’s email format, but they can’t imitate email addresses. Official Cash App emails come from addresses ending in “@square.com,” “@squareup.com,” and “@cash.app.”
- Be picky with your transactions. As a good rule of thumb, use Cash App to send money only to people you know and trust. Transactions with marketplace sellers are much better done in person, where you can see and check the item you’re buying. Besides, Cash App has no buyer protection, so we recommend limiting the purchases you make through Cash App.
- Double-check your transactions. If you must transact with strangers through Cash App, be sure to check the recipient’s details. One red flag is when the name they give you doesn’t match the name on their Cash App account. They could give you a fake identity to hide their real identity, which is obviously suspicious.
- Use two-factor authentication. To safeguard your Cash App account, enable two-factor authentication. This process sends your registered email or phone number a one-time PIN whenever someone tries to log in to your account. Even if someone manages to steal your account credentials, they wouldn’t be able to access your account without the PIN.
- Don’t reuse passwords. Here’s an example of why you shouldn’t reuse passwords: If you use the same password for Cash App and your email, scammers could access both accounts and retrieve your one-time PIN. Even with two-factor authentication, they could still access your Cash App.
- Enable payment verification and notification. Cash App’s Security Lock can be modified so that it’ll require your passcode before every transaction. You should also enable notifications after each transaction to immediately detect unauthorized transactions.
- Bolster your digital security. Although the use of hacking and malware are less common ways to obtain login credentials, you should use a VPN when using Cash App on public Wi-Fi networks. Here’s our roundup of the Best VPNs of 2023. You should also have an always-on antivirus app that detects malware attacks in real time to block spyware.
Pro Tip: When we reviewed NordVPN, we found that it uses 256-bit AES encryption for user traffic. This encryption method is practically unbreakable. Even if a hacker finds data packets from your device when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network, the encryption makes it impossible for them to see what’s inside the data packets.
Cash App And Your Personal Information
With the right knowledge, tools, and mindset, we can avoid falling victim to Cash App scams. There is another safety-related aspect, however, that only Cash App has control over, and that’s the collection, processing, and sharing of our personal data.
Cash App adheres to federal laws requiring payment apps to verify the identity of its users in an effort to catch money laundering, especially by criminal and terrorist organizations. This identity verification process requires the collection of sensitive information, including your full name, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your date of birth. Additionally, to set up a Cash App account, you need to provide some personal and financial information, including your phone number, email address, and bank account information.
Data Processing and Storage
As mentioned earlier, Cash App uses data encryption to secure personal data while in transit to its servers. The data is stored in Cash App’s own servers as well as servers from third-party service providers located in Japan, Canada, the United States, European Union countries, and other countries. The company takes administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the data from misuse, theft, disclosure, and unauthorized access.
While all that sounds good, Block, which is Cash App’s parent company, recently filed a breach notification to the Securities and Exchange Commission4. This filing details the security breach that occurred when a former Cash App employee illegally accessed and downloaded reports related to Cash App Investing. The reports included full names and brokerage account numbers, but fortunately, no other personally identifiable information was stolen.
- Other users, such as those you transact with
- Affiliates and group companies operating under the umbrella of Block
- Service providers to Cash App to maintain and improve the services
- Law enforcement to comply with laws and regulations
- New owners, co-owners, and operators in case of corporate changes
- Other companies that deliver services on Cash App’s behalf
Recap: Can You Trust Cash App?
Overall, we can say that Cash App is a trustworthy company. It runs a legitimate payment processing business, it has a secure transaction structure, and with the exception of the recent security breach, Cash App has a solid track record. As long as you do your part in securing your account, staying away from scams, and protecting your personal information, you should not have to worry when using Cash App.
Cash App FAQs
Before we end this report on Cash App’s safety, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the service.
Can you cancel a Cash App payment sent to the wrong recipient?
In some cases, you can cancel a Cash App payment sent to the wrong recipient. Here’s how:
- Open Cash App.
- Locate and tap the Activity Tab with the clock icon.
- Select the transaction you want to cancel.
- Tap the horizontal three-dot menu.
- Select “Cancel a Payment” and confirm.
If the “Cancel a Payment” option isn’t available, you can contact Cash App’s customer support to request a refund.
Is my Cash App balance insured?
Generally, your Cash App balance isn’t insured. However, if you have a Cash Card, your account balance is covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which covers up to $250,000 per Cash App user.
Can I get my money back if I’m scammed?
If you are scammed, you can request a refund from Cash App. The refund, however, is not guaranteed.
What happens if I don’t verify my identity with Cash App?
If you don’t verify your identity with Cash App, you can still use its services, but with limitations. You can send only $250 per week and receive $1,000 per month. Verifying your account removes the limit for amounts received and increases your sending limit to $7,500.
ComplianceGuide. (2022). PCI FAQs.
Fraud. (2022). Cash App scams on the rise.
Federal Trade Commission. (2022). New Data Shows FTC Received 2.8 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2021.
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. (2022). Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.