How To

A way to keep PayPal, Venmo, etc from locking your money

One of the things that’s happened during the pandemic that I’ve noticed is a lot of scammers have moved online. There’s been a lot of crackdowns by money-transferring services that have the unfortunate side effect of locking your funds away until you manage to reach a human, go through a dispute process, and in many cases fight for months.

Friend of a friend of mine has rent basically in limbo due to her account being discontinued (no reason given, no appeal, account is gone.) That money will be coming to her, it may be several months before she sees it. It’s part of the monolith user agreement.

Easy solution: don’t keep money in these services.

The instant you get a payment, transfer it to a checking account. Make sure that checking account is set up to not soft spot you (eg if you write a check over your balance it cashes it and then charges you a fee.) You want anyone attempting to withdraw funds to not have access. Once the money has shown in the checking account, move it to a different account.

When PayPal/Venmo/Cash/etc suddenly decides to cancel your account and hold funds for six months, they have no funds to hold. When they decide to go after everything in the past 30 days from your checking account, there are no funds to grab and a human has to actually get involved to try and inconvenience you for the next six months.

To be clear, they can go after your funds. Moving it from checking account 1 to 2 doesn’t stop that they legally can pursue any debt or invalid charge you got, however it does stop an algorithm from pulling $20,000 in sales out and moving it back up to PayPal while you fight and they collect interest on your tied up funds.

These days getting a free business checking account for deposit, at least where I’m at, means maintaining a balance of $100 in it and not writing more than 6 or so checks a month. Considering that account for me writes 0 checks this decade, I’m good. Make sure the deposit account you’re putting things into is in no way automatically tied to any other account and does not do overdraft protection. Many banks set up failover to savings where they’ll pull out $100 at a time from savings, charging you $25, so that you wouldn’t get an overdraft fee of $30.

And just to note – if you owe them the money, they’ll get the money. This is just some protection from an automatic cash grab triggered for reasons they’ll most likely never explain to you.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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