A Defensive Computing Checklist    by Michael Horowitz
NOTE: I gave a presentation on Defensive Computing at the HOPE conference in July 2022
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This section is about payment apps (aka pay apps) Zelle, Venmo, Cash App and PayPal. Not here (yet) are Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The article How Private Is My Pay App? from The Markup (Nov 2020) discusses the data these apps share. The apps that most protect your privacy are Google Pay, AppleCash and Zelle.

On the This Week in Tech podcast (November 20, 2022 episode) I heard good things about Wise for transferring money between countries. I have no experience with it.


People using mobile payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Cash App are required to report commercial transactions totaling more than $600 per year to the IRS. As of 2022, cash apps in the US must report payments to the IRS of more than $600 a year received for goods and services. Money received from friends and relatives as personal gifts or reimbursements for expenses is not taxable. If, however, there’s a mistake and personal payments get misclassified, the IRS says to sort it out with the app company.


Did someone 'accidentally' send you money on Venmo? You might be getting scammed by Jessica Roy for the Los Angeles Times (September 2022). A reporter writes, at length, about her identity having been stolen. In her case the scam message was:

  Anna sent you $500.00 - Antique table - You now have $500.00 in your Venmo account

The article says that the best thing to do in these cases is nothing.

How the scam works: Bad guys steal/buy credit card numbers and attach them to accounts on cash apps like Venmo, Cashapp and Zelle. Using the stolen credit cards, the bad guys send money to hundreds or thousands of people at once. Then the bad guys request the money back. The initial victims, whose credit card numbers were stolen, will see the charges, get in touch with their banks, and likely have the transaction reversed. But any cash app user who sent the bad guys money gets screwed. Venmo declined to make anyone available for an interview for the story.






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