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How Much Do You Know About P2P Payment and Cryptocurrency Scams?

Take this quiz to see if you are savvy about tools like Zelle and Venmo, and why criminals


spinner image an animal trap with different crypto coins in the middle
Photo Collage: AARP;(Source: GettyImages)

Question 1 of 9

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether exist only as digital code. Transactions are conducted and verified via a digital ledger, known as a blockchain, using a network of computers. Because crypto's value is based on supply and demand, it can swing wildly, and investors can see big gains — or huge losses. 

Question 2 of 9

Why do people use cryptocurrency?

Some cryptocurrency users — including criminals — like the anonymity it can provide, which others want to avoid transaction fees or hold it as an investment, in hopes of making a fortune.

Question 3 of 9

How much money did fraud victims report losing to crypto scams in 2023?

Investment fraud involving cryptocurrency accounted for $3.94 billion in losses, according to the FBI. That’s up from $2.57 billion the previous year.

Question 4 of 9

You’re contacted out of the blue by someone who claims to be an investment manager and promises to grow your personal fortune — but only if you put your money in cryptocurrency. What should you do?

If you get a call from someone trying to get you to invest in crypto, hang up. The FTC warns that scammers will show their targets seemingly authentic-looking investment websites, but the gains that the sites depict are fake. If you log on and try to withdraw money from your account, you may find that you can’t take out anything at all or are only allowed to make withdrawals if you pay high fees.

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Question 5 of 9

Someone who claims to be a government official insists that you pay a fine in cryptocurrency instead of by check or credit card. What should you think?

No government official will ever ask for payment in crypto.

Question 6 of 9

P2P apps such as Venmo and Zelle are convenient, but why are they appealing to scammers?

P2P apps don’t have the same consumer protections that credit cards have. Transferring money through them is more like paying with cash because transactions are instantaneous and usually irreversible.  

Question 7 of 9

What would be the safest way to use a P2P app?

They are best used with people you know and trust — friends and family members, for example, or local businesses with brick-and-mortar locations and flesh-and-blood employees. If you’re transacting with someone new or unseen, it’s best to use a credit card.

Question 8 of 9

You accept a work-from-home job and your new employer sends you a check to deposit, then asks you to send all or part of the funds to someone using a P2P service. What should you do?

The check is likely to bounce in this common job scam; victims often deposit the check, think it’s cleared and then send money from their account before realizing they are dealing with a criminal.

Question 9 of 9

You get a payment on a P2P app from a stranger who then contacts you to say that the transfer was a mistake and asks you to return the money. What should you do?

Contact your P2P app’s customer service department for assistance. It’s likely that the funds sent to you “by accident” were stolen, and the P2P app could hold you responsible for paying back the money to the rightful owner or even have your account shut down.

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