In the financial world, there are tons of apps and software that makes handling and moving money a breeze. One of those apps is Venmo, which quickly has become a popular financial tool used by millions of people worldwide.
It’s the easiest way to send money to your friends or family. And there is a social element that you can enable to share your activity and what your friends are sending (a bit weird to me, but you can enable that).
Additionally, you can get a Venmo debit card and even make purchases from select vendors.
Yet with this technology, also comes various Venmo scams that you must be aware of in order to protect your accounts from fraud.
By being proactive you can save money, time, and headaches from dealing with those looking to take advantage of your finances.
Below, I’ll share some of the common Venmo scams to watch for and tips to ensure your account is safe.
One of the great things about our digital age, is the advancements that make our lives easier. And the financial world has dramatically changed thanks to technology.
Companies like Venmo have made paying family and friends incredibly easy. But like anything in technology, there are ways for people to scam or hack your information.
And it’s not just to single out Venmo, any app or online activity you do can potentially be scammed or hacked if you aren’t careful and are not proactively prepared.
There are a few statistics out there about identity theft and fraud, here are just a quick few:
- In 2019 for example, consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion related to fraud complaints, an increase of $293 million from 2018.
- Identity theft reports have increased significantly. From 2017 to 2018, the number of reports increased by 19.8%. From 2018 to 2019, there was a staggering 46.4% increase. (The Motley Fool)
- In 2019, the number of exposed records in the banking/credit/financial industry skyrocketed. The records exposed in its breaches increased by almost 99 million. It accounted for 61.1% of the exposed records in 2019. (The Motley Fool)
- According to the Center for Victim Research, 7-10% of the U.S. population are victims of identity fraud each year, and 21% of those experience multiple incidents of identity fraud.
Is Venmo Safe To Use?
Venmo is generally safe to use if you are aware of the potential risks of sending money electronically and you know how to protect yourself from being scammed. Whether it’s Venmo or any other financial app you are using, you must learn how to best safeguard your account and information before using.
Additionally. Venmo has taken their security features more seriously as they have had some issues in the past. Currently, if you visit their security page, you can learn about how they are protecting their users.
But here are a few things to note:
- Always monitor your account activity to help identify unauthorized transactions.
- Venmo uses encryption to protect your account details and will store that information on servers in secure locations.
- If you’ve lost your phone or your account is being used in an unauthorized way, you can prevent your phone from accessing your Venmo account. What you’ll do is login via Venmo.com > Settings > Security and remove the session associated with your phone. When you remove the session, you’ll be signed out of the app on your phone.
Can You Be Scammed On Venmo?
Scammers can certainly take advantage of your Venmo account, which can include sending funds to their personal accounts or stealing money from your linked bank accounts. There are a few ways that someone could scam money through Venmo if you are not prepared ahead of time.
But how do scammers get money from you on your account? Well, below are a few common Venmo scams that you should be aware of currently.
1. Using a stolen credit card
One of the things Venmo recommends is to not accept payments from strangers or people you do not trust if you are selling things online.
While you might be generally safe, you can run into one big issue: a supposed “buyer” is actually a “scammer” using a stolen or fraudulent credit card or bank account to make the purchase.
They’ll send you money for the item and they happily get whatever you were selling. When Venmo discovers the fraud, they’ll reverse the charges to reimburse the stolen card or bank account.
The money will be withdrawn from your Venmo and if you don’t have cash in there, you’ll still be required to pay it back. So you lose what you sold and the money.
2. Duped of your money
Just like selling to strangers and using Venmo as payment, you shouldn’t use Venmo to buy anything from people you don’t know either. It’s an easy way to get scammed of your money and no way to get it back.
The scammer will try to persuade you to pay them first for whatever the item is (maybe the full or some partial amount), but then not provide you with your purchase.
They’ll even send fake shipping info or screenshots to make you think they sent it in.
And typically after that, you may see that account close and disappear, just like your money.
3. Link texting scam
A common way to become a Venmo scam victim is by clicking links that ask for your personal information that appear to be from Venmo. The company will not randomly ask for personal information via a text or email, so avoid, delete it, and you can certainly forward over to Venmo support.
These scammers can also use and create texts or emails that look exactly like a legit Venmo request. Same fonts, colors, formatting — all that.
And when you click the link, it will take you to a webpage that also is an exact duplicate of the real thing. If you end up entering your info, you now passed your credit card, bank information, and Venmo account to the scammer.
This person may use it to steal money from you or sell it on the dark web to someone else who may hack your account. And it happens with banks, shopping websites, etc.
4. In-person phone use
Oh yes, there are people daring enough to scam right in front of you without you realizing it. While not as common, someone may be able to get your Venmo info if you let them use your phone.
Now, most people would not let a stranger use their phone, but just avoid it at all costs — even if they seem innocent enough.
Basically, someone you don’t know asks to use your phone, tells you they are in trouble, or having car problems, etc. They’ll pretend to make a call where the person doesn’t pick up and will ask to send a text.
But what they quickly do is access your Venmo or other accounts and send themselves money.
If you do want to help someone, instead ask for the phone number of the person they want to call/text and call them or enter the text for them. But honestly, I never do any of it. And if there is an emergency, you can call for help for them.
5. Mysterious money Venmo scam
No, mysterious money in your account is not a good thing! As much as it might bring a smile to your face to see some extra cash, you should be aware that someone is trying to scam you (most likely).
The scammer will use a stolen credit card or bank account and will send you money. Do not send it back to them! And more than likely, the person might even request it back as well, however do not.
Instead, reach out to Venmo support to investigate and to have them send the money back for you. You might be wondering why? Well in this situation Venmo will eventually uncover the scam when the victims’ reports the fraud to them.
Naturally, Venmo takes back all money linked to the fraudulent activity. That means if you already “refunded” the money to the scammer, you’ll be out whatever that amount is as Venmo will deduct the money from your account.
Now it is possible someone really did make a mistake, but leave the money in your account. You can contact Venmo support and the sender can as well to ensure a safe reversed transaction. It’s better to save money and headaches by letting Venmo handle investigating.
What Is The Safest Way To Use Venmo?
None of the above is meant to scare you away from using Venmo. It’s a solid application and a convenient way to send money without having to carry cash.
But like anything you do online, you have to be aware of any scams, know the risks, and be aware of how you can protect yourself.
Now that you understand some of the Venom scams that exist, what can you do to protect yourself and ensure you are using Venmo safety? Below are some tips.
Only follow people you know
When using Venmo, stick to only following and connecting with friends and family that you trust. Always avoid using it to pay for items of people you don’t know.
For example, if you are purchasing items on Craigslist or sites like Craigslist, avoid using Venmo for any transactions. Even if the seller is requesting it and seems trustworthy. And you also do not want to use it if you are selling items either.
Strong password and use a pin
As any app or software company will tell you, create a unique and strong password. Naturally Venmo is no different, especially if you are connecting a credit card or bank info to the application.
However, you can go one step further.
Generally, most people will leave the app logged in, so when clicked you can immediately use it. But this can leave you vulnerable, especially if your phone is lost or stolen.
To help protect you further, add a four digit pin number to the app. That way when you click to open the app you have to enter a pin number to gain access.
Set up multi-factor Authentication
Generally, you’ll find this feature on every legit app, online accounts, or software product these days. But this enables another layer of security for your Venmo account.
Essentially, when Venmo doesn’t recognize a device accessing your account, it will send a code to your phone or email address to verify it is you.
The one challenge with this option is if your phone or email gets compromised, the scammer can get into your account still or take it over.
Remember, while there are Venmo scams out there and things you need to do to protect yourself, these things can happen with any mobile app, online account, and financial institution.
But if you safeguard yourself and take preventive measures, you should have no issues.
However, if you want to further protect yourself (especially from Identity theft) then do some of the follow:
- Fraud alerts on your credit are good, but honestly you should freeze your credit instead until you are applying for something. You can freeze your credit with the major bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) completely free. You must do each individually, but it’s very easy to do.
- Always use two-authentic protection with accounts or mobile apps when you can. If anything, avoid adding too many mobile financial applications on your phone. Keep it simple.
- Do not use public wifi to log into financial accounts, unless you use a VPN like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. I use this anyway from any online browsing.
- Sign up for Credit Karma or Credit Sesame (both are free) to monitor credit reports and see if any weird things pop-up.
- If you’ve had identity theft issues already, besides the above consider software like LifeLock, IdentityForce, or some other brand. These can alert you much faster, help you stay ahead of financial scams on your accounts, and help you with recovery.
- Change your passwords often and make them completely different when you update.