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Apple Pay Scams: How to Beat the Thieves Who Are After Your Money

Apple Pay may be a convenient way to send money, but it's also become a favorite among scammers looking to make a quick buck at your expense.


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Updated 5 August 2021
Apple Pay Scams: How to Beat the Thieves Who Are After Your Money
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Identified Scam:

Key Finding

Scammers use several techniques to steal your money and information via or impersonating Apple Pay.


Key Risk

You can lose your money and/or have your identity stolen.

Sections on this page
  1. What Are Apple Pay Scams?
  2. How To Beat and Avoid Apple Pay Scams
  3. Examples of Apple Pay Scams
  4. What To Do if You’ve Fallen for Apple Pay Scams
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Apple Pay scams can be avoided as long as you know how they work and red flags to watch out for. To avoid being scammed, you should only use Apple Pay to transfer money to people you know and to legitimate businesses.

What Are Apple Pay Scams?

As an alternative to a physical wallet, Apple Pay makes it easier to send and receive payments right from your cell phone. Since its debut in 2014, Apple Pay boasts 507 million users worldwide opting for the digital wallet over cash. Unfortunately, its popularity, ease of use, and simple design have caught the attention of scammers as well. Take a look at the most common Apple Pay scams and how they work. 

Unsolicited Payments

Out of nowhere, you receive a payment from someone on Apple Pay who asks you to return the money. You believe it was an honest mistake and send the money back. In reality, the scammer had connected a stolen credit card to Apple Pay and used it to transfer money to you.

Once refund the money, they’ll delete the stolen card and add their own card so that the funds you sent appear on their personal card—you’ve lost the money you sent to the scammer.

Fake Payment Methods

You’re selling something online, probably a big-ticket item like a car or computer. Someone offers to purchase the item using Apple Pay. Unfortunately, they’re using a stolen credit card.

Once you accept the payment and send the item, you find out the payment wasn’t legitimate. You end up having the money removed from your account and lose the item you sold as well. 

You Send Money but Never Receive the Item

You’re scouring the Internet for an in-demand item, such as tickets to a sold-out show. Once you find a seller, they ask you to pay via Apple Pay. Once you transfer the money, they disappear without sending the item. 

Phishing

Another twist on an Apple Pay scam involves fake emails, which appear to confirm a payment you’ve made. When you click on the link provided, you believe you’ll be directed to the Apple Pay website to request a refund. Instead, you’ll be asked to enter your financial information, which scammers will then use to steal your money and possibly your identity

Unsecured Internet

A scammer could intercept your financial information if you enter your card information in Apple Pay or make other changes to your account while using an unsecured WiFi network. They could then use it to make unauthorized purchases. 

Strange Payment Requests

You might receive a request from a company or individual asking you to make a payment via Apple Pay messaging. Even if the sender includes an official logo, they are likely an impostor. 

How To Beat and Avoid Apple Pay Scams

Apple Pay is simple to use, but you should always treat it with caution, as you would your bank account or cash. 

How to Beat Apple Pay Scams

Take these precautions to avoid becoming the victim of an Apple Pay scam:

  • Send and receive payment only to/from people you know.
  • Report payment requests from strangers.
  • Don’t accept payment automatically (change your settings).
  • Review transactions regularly.
  • Be careful with accidental transactions.
  • Enable additional security settings.
  • Link your card to a credit card vs. a bank account.

Send and Receive Payments Only To/From People You Know

Make sure you confirm the identity of any person who contacts you through Apple Pay. You might recognize the name, but a scammer could be impersonating your friend. If you weren’t expecting a payment, reach out to your friend personally to verify the payment is legitimate.

Report Payment Requests From People You Don’t Know

If someone sends a payment request and you don’t know them, click on the option to “Report Junk.” You can also block the sender. 

Change Settings to Accept Payments Manually

The default option in Apple Pay enables you to accept payments automatically. To ensure you don’t accept payments from scammers, change your payment approval settings to “manual” so you can always review the payments. 

Review Recent Transactions

Make sure that any payments you’ve received are genuine by checking out the payment details in the Recent Transactions section of Apple Pay. It may take a few days for payments to go through, so it’s best to confirm the payment was successful before sending an item that you sold online.

Exercise Caution With Payments Sent “By Mistake”

If someone sends you money in error, ask them to cancel the transaction. You should not have to return the money. If they refuse, it’s very likely a scam. 

Enable Additional Security Settings

Never change your Apple Pay settings or financial information while logged into an unsecured network. Check your settings to turn on additional security settings, such as multi-factor authentication, or login by PIN or fingerprint recognition.

Link to a Credit Card

If you’re scammed out of your money, you’ll have more recourse with your credit card company than you would with a debit card or bank account. 

Red Flags of Apple Pay Scams

Apple Pay’s simple, clean design and accessibility make it a target for scammers. When you use the digital payment service, make sure you’re aware of these red flags so you can stay safe: 

  • Strange messages.
  • Receiving payments or payment requests from people you don’t know.
  • Pressure to use Apple Pay.

Strange Messages

Use caution when you receive emails or messages from Apple Pay that claim you’ve received a payment or need to update your account info. Do not click on any links in emails that claim to be from Apple Pay. These messages will contain sloppy wording and spelling and grammatical errors. 

Pay Attention to Links

Fake Apple Pay emails will contain links to fake Apple websites that are designed to steal your information. Before clicking on any links, make sure they are taking you to the genuine Apple website (Apple.com). 

Receiving Payments or Payment Requests From People You Don’t Know

Be suspicious of any payments or payment requests that come in from people or companies you don’t recognize or anyone you have never contacted before. These unsolicited messages and requests usually tend to be the work of scammers. 

Pressure To Use Apple Pay

Usually, only scammers will pressure you to use Apple Pay. They know they’ll have an easier time disappearing with your money when you use the digital payment system. If you need to pay someone and they refuse all other forms of payment (e.g., cash, PayPal, etc.) you should proceed with caution.

Examples of Apple Pay Scams

It’s certainly possible to use Apple Pay safely, but be aware of the various ways that scammers can take your money. 

In this example, a buyer agreed to a seller’s terms to accept payment via Apple Pay. Unfortunately, once he transferred the money, the seller blocked him, and the item never arrived.

Example of Apple Pay scam
You should be careful when sellers only accept payment via Apple Pay or other similar money transfer app. (Source: Reddit)

Receiving a text like the one below is another red flag. Messages that ask for your information, or appear to confirm some changes to your account, are typically phishing messages that only want to steal your information.   

Example of Apple Pay scam
Pay attention to URLs to make sure you're visiting a legitimate Apple website, and not a phishing site. The real Apple Pay site will be https://www.apple.com/apple-pay/.(Source: Apple Community)

Even the most authentic-looking emails can end up being a scam. In the below example, this Apple Pay receipt indicates an “integrated purchase” totaling $155.99. If someone clicks the link, they’ll need to enter their Apple ID, email address, and billing details.

Although the person receiving the email wasn’t actually charged (since this isn’t a genuine receipt), the scammer now has access to their Apple Pay account and financial information, laying the groundwork for future fraudulent activity. 

Example of Apple Pay scam.
Some Apple Pay scams will use fear to trick you into clicking fake links. (Source: MailGuard)

What To Do if You’ve Fallen for Apple Pay Scams

As a victim of an Apple Pay scam, you’re probably wondering whether it’s possible to get your money back. Here are the steps you should take next:

  • Cancel your Apple Pay transfers
  • Dispute the payment
  • Update your passwords
  • Report the scam
Contact Details

Apple


Phone: 1-800-275-2273
Website: https://www.apple.com
Contact page: https://support.apple.com/contact

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Verified Contact Details

It's important to verify links and contact details to beat imposters.

Cancel Transactions in Apple Pay

If you sent money to a scammer, you could try to cancel the transaction within Apple Pay. You can also contact your bank or credit card company to report that your payment resulted from a scam and see if they can reverse it.

Dispute the Payment With Apple Pay

If your efforts to cancel the payment through your bank are unsuccessful, another option is to dispute the payment directly with Apple Pay. First, tap the transaction in your account and select “Report an Issue,” then “Charge Dispute.” 

Update Passwords

If you clicked on any links in a fake Apple Pay message, change your Apple Pay password immediately. Contact your bank or credit card company if you believe your financial information may have been compromised. 

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

It's important to use a unique password for every online account—this protects you if your information is stolen. To help you keep track of all of your different passwords, use a password manager

Report Apple Pay Scams to the Authorities

Depending on the type of Apple Pay scam that you fell victim to, you should report it to the appropriate authorities, such as: 

  • Your local police
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get scammed on Apple Pay?

Yes, several different scams take advantage of Apple Pay users, including sellers who don't end up sending you your item or fraudsters sending fake Apple Pay emails to steal your information.

What do I do if I get scammed on Apple Pay?

If you've sent someone money on Apple Pay but never received your item, you can try to cancel the transfer. You can also dispute the charge with Apple. 

If you've fallen for an Apple Pay phishing scam and had your information stolen, you should change your passwords and report the scam immediately.

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