How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (2024)

What is Venmo and how is it used?

Venmo is a cash transfer app popular in the United States that lets users send and receive payments through a simple interface, without exchanging bank account details. After linking your bank account to the app, you can freely exchange money with other Venmo users. Your Venmo balance can then be transferred to your bank account whenever you wish.

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    How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (1)

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      You can use Venmo to:

      • Make payments with friends

      • Purchase goods and services

      • Shop on authorized merchant websites, apps, or business profiles

      • Buy and sell cryptocurrency

      • Send donations

      • Split bills

      • Settle debts

      • Send gifts

      Venmo started as a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, but now it’s an all-purpose cash transfer app used by millions of people and businesses.

      Is Venmo safe to use?

      Venmo is safe to use when interacting with people you trust. It’s not safe to use Venmo with strangers you haven’t verified. Venmo has security features in place to authenticate users and keep transactions secure, but scammers can make fake Venmo accounts to trick other users into unsafe actions.

      Venmo is safe for sellers looking to do legitimate business, as the buyer can’t just cancel a payment once it’s sent. Venmo is also safe for buyers, but there’s no guarantee Venmo will refund money if you’re scammed.

      Here are some safety features Venmo offers:

      • Mandatory verified phone number and email

      • Two-factor authentication (2FA)

      • Venmo Purchase Protection Program

      • Encryption of data transmission

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (2)Use two-factor authentication to help prevent Venmo fraud.

      Should I give Venmo my SSN?

      Venmo is regulated by the United States Treasury Department and must comply with the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDI Act) for money transfers. That means Venmo sometimes requires a SSN to comply with federal regulations.

      If you need to provide your SSN, do it directly in the app. If someone claims to be from Venmo and contacts you via a third-party platform to get your SSN, it could be a scam to steal your Social Security number.

      Common Venmo scams and how to avoid them

      The convenience that makes Venmo so popular also gives scammers potentially easy access to victims. You can contact any public account on Venmo, or send money to someone if you have their phone number, email, or Venmo username.

      Most Venmo scams use social engineering tactics — such as phishing — to get you to click links with malware or viruses, or transfer money.

      Here are some of the most common Venmo scams out there and how to avoid them:

      Fraudulent Venmo support agents

      How the scam works: A scammer contacts you claiming to be from Venmo because they’ve seen an unauthorized transaction and need to verify your account. To do that, they need to send you an authentication code, which you must then share with them. In reality, they need the code to get past 2FA protocols and break into your account.

      How to avoid it: Never share verification codes with anyone, and ignore anyone who claims to be from Venmo asking to confirm your identity. No one from Venmo will contact you asking for a verification code.

      Selling in-demand items

      How the scam works: A scammer advertises low-supply/high-demand items such as a limited edition sneaker or a sold-out video game console, and asks for payment through Venmo. After you rush to make a payment, the scammer disappears.

      How to avoid it: If you’re paying a personal Venmo account, tag it as a “payment” before you send it. This way, you’re covered by Venmo Purchase Protection in case something goes awry. Otherwise, make payments for goods only to authorized business profiles.

      Fake payment confirmation

      How the scam works: A scammer negotiates a purchase with you on an online marketplace like Craigslist, then says they’ve paid or Venmo is holding the payment until you upload the shipping information. They usually send a spoofed email with a faked screenshot so it looks like they’ve made the payment.

      How to avoid it: There’s no feature on Venmo to hold payments until sellers ship items. Never ship an item until the funds appear in your Venmo balance.

      Accidental payment

      How the scam works: You get a Venmo payment out of nowhere. Shortly after, you get a frantic message explaining the money was sent to you by accident, asking you to return it. But the “accidental payment” is from a stolen or fraudulent account, and will be reversed soon — any money you send the scammer will be gone forever.

      How to avoid it: Never respond directly to users about “accidental payments.” Contact Venmo and let them know all the details so they can investigate whether it’s a scam and reverse the transaction if they see fit.

      Overpayment

      How the scam works: Venmo refund scams, or overpayment scams, are a variation of the “accidental payment” scam. The scammer sends you too much money and asks you to refund the overpayment. The scammer disappears after being refunded, and the “overpayment” is soon reversed, since it was from a stolen account.

      How to avoid it: Only refund through Venmo support, and don’t be afraid to call Venmo at (855) 812-4430 if you’re unsure about a claim.

      Payment via check

      How the scam works: A scammer pays you for an item by check, but “accidentally” writes too much for the amount, and asks you to refund the excess through Venmo. The check clears when you deposit it, making it seem real, but it’s stolen and will bounce.

      How to avoid it: Don’t make a payment on Venmo in exchange for a check.

      “Get rich quick” scams

      How the scam works: Also known as a pyramid scheme or money circle, a scammer contacts you saying you can make some quick cash — for example, they may claim that if you send them $20 on Venmo you can get $80 back when enough people buy in. Legitimate investments through financial institutions are one thing, “get rich quick” schemes through Venmo are very different and shouldn’t be trusted.

      How to avoid it: Never pay money via Venmo to get big returns fast. Sometimes scammers also impersonate a friend or family member to rope you into the scam, so double-check any messages that seem off.

      “You've won a prize”

      How the scam works: You get a legitimate-sounding email or text from Venmo saying you’ve won a prize. To cash in, you just need to click the link and sign into your Venmo account or provide information, which the scammer then uses to access your account.

      How to avoid it: Enter your Venmo login details only on Venmo.com and the verified Venmo app. Fake links can lead to a spoofed Venmo site aiming to steal login credentials, or the links might be infected with malware.

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (3)

      Romance scams

      How the scam works: A romance scam often involves a catfisher who creates a fake profile on social media, then contacts you feigning romantic interest. After building trust, they persuade you to send them money through Venmo for some made up reason, such as a late paycheck or for plane tickets to come visit you. After you send them money, they disappear.

      How to avoid it: Never send money to anyone you meet online and haven’t met in person and thoroughly trust.

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (4)Romance scams can be carried out through fake payments on Venmo.

      Emergency scams

      How the scam works: A scammer poses as a loved one and contacts you saying they have an emergency and need you to send money on Venmo now.

      How to avoid it: Be skeptical of any emergency money requests in general. If you’re concerned the claim is actually real, contact your loved one on the phone or face to face if possible.

      Lending your phone

      How the scam works: A scammer stops you in public to use your phone to message someone or look up directions. When you offer your phone, they open your Venmo account, drain it, hand you back the phone, and disappear.

      How to avoid it: Never give your phone to a stranger. If you need to, write the text yourself or look up the map and show the person while holding the phone.

      Fake emails or texts

      How the scam works: You get a fake Venmo email or a fake Venmo text that looks legit, asking you to verify your financial or personal information by clicking a link or filling out a form. After you “verify,” your info is stolen and your accounts are compromised.

      How to avoid it: Learn how to identify a fake text message and how to spot email scams. And never provide login details from a link sent to you in a text or email. Only sign into the Venmo website or app directly.

      Tech support

      How the scam works: Tech support scams convince you to call tech support for a well-known company but you end up talking to a scammer. For example, a malicious website could cause your computer to freeze. You get a pop-up with an official-looking logo or message, urging you to call the scammer’s phone number — they ask you to send money via Venmo to fix the issue.

      How to avoid it: Only contact companies using contact details on their official website. Preferably, type the company’s website directly into the address bar rather than into a search engine, as some hackers use pharming to trick you into visiting a fake site.

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (5)Venmo tech support scams urge you to call a fake helpline then pay for the service on Venmo.

      Fake job offers

      How the scam works: A scammer targets job seekers by creating fake remote job ads. When you apply, the company contacts you, conducts a fake interview, and offers you the job. The only catch is you have to pay bogus onboarding fees through Venmo.

      How to avoid it: You shouldn’t have to pay anything to start a new job. If you’re unsure, search online for the company offering you the job, along with keywords like “scam,” “review,” or “legit.” If they’re trying to scam you, they’ve probably scammed others too.

      How to stay safe on Venmo

      Knowing how to spot Venmo scams will help keep you safe. You should also follow Venmo’s terms of service, and look through Venmo’s security protocols to learn the few instances Venmo might contact you. Also, consider following Venmo on social media in case any new threats emerge.

      Here are some more ways to stay safer on Venmo:

      Send payments only to users you trust

      Use Venmo only with people you know and trust. If you’re making a legitimate payment for goods, make sure it’s to an authorized business profile or a personal profile. And always tag the transactions you make as a “payment.”

      Don’t provide personal information online

      Don’t post any personally identifying information publicly. Social media is constantly patrolled by scammers looking for a way into your inbox and other online accounts. And public information makes for some of the weakest passwords and security questions, which can lead to identity theft.

      Link your credit card to your account for greater protection

      It’s easier to cancel a charge or file a chargeback with a credit card than with a debit card. But Venmo payments made by credit cards are charged 3% (purchases from authorized merchants are free), and you need to link a debit card if you want to transfer funds from your Venmo account.

      Regularly check your bank statements

      Make a habit of checking your bank statements to keep track of suspicious activity. You can also set up fraud alerts on free credit monitoring services like Credit Karma.

      Make your profile private

      Your Venmo transaction activity is public by default. But this also means scammers can monitor your activity. Venmo also offers “Friends only” and “Private” privacy settings. Private is the safest, so make the switch to help avoid Venmo scams.

      Don’t send items until payment is received

      Send items only after payment reaches your Venmo account. Sell items only through a business profile or a personal account eligible for selling, because those types of accounts enjoy protections under the Venmo Purchase Protection program.

      Don’t accept payments from unknown senders

      Don’t accept any mysterious payments you get on Venmo or other cash apps. Wait for Venmo to reverse the payment or contact customer service.

      Don’t click suspicious links

      Random Venmo messages saying to click a link to sign in are a scam. Smishing texts and fake emails are designed to steal your information or install malware. This goes for all platforms and logins from Venmo, as well as other types of scams like Apple ID phishing scams.

      Don’t let a stranger use your phone

      There’s rarely a good reason to let a stranger use your phone. If you decide to let someone use your phone, make sure to send a text on their behalf or look up whatever they need, and continue to hold the phone while you show them. If you have your passwords saved, scammers can quickly drain your accounts. Also, log into Venmo and other accounts manually instead of saving login credentials.

      Use built-in security and privacy features

      Enable two-factor authentication to verify your identity through tools that use biometric data or apps like Google Authenticator, and always run a trusted free antivirus on your devices. Avoid using Venmo on public Wi-Fi unless you use a VPN, otherwise a hacker may have an easier time intercepting your connection.

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (6)Use a Venmo pin number and biometric identifier to keep your account more protected.

      I've been scammed, what do I do?

      Take screenshots if you’re scammed on Venmo, and record any information about the scam you can. Then, provide that information to Venmo. You may need to secure any linked accounts, too.

      1. Contact Venmo support

      Go to Venmo’s official contact page to submit a complaint through a proper channel. Submit any evidence you have about the scam, including images. If you receive a phishing email, send it directly to phishing@venmo.com. To report scam texts or calls, write to support@venmo.com.

      2. Update your Venmo account details

      Change your password immediately if you’ve been scammed, and use long and unique passwords for your online accounts. The best password managers will generate strong passwords for you and remember them. Delete your bank account information from Venmo and add it again once your accounts are secured.

      3. Contact your bank

      Inform your bank about the Venmo scam — they can freeze accounts or bank cards linked to Venmo, and set up alerts for future suspicious activity. Your bank may also offer guidance on how to get back money from Venmo if you’re scammed.

      4. Contact the Federal Trade Commission

      Report internet scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), keeping in mind the separate sites for reporting fraud and reporting identity theft. Filing a report with the FTC could help law enforcement partners with wider investigations. You should also learn how to report and prevent credit card fraud.

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      Make Avast One your first line of defense against scams. Its real-time threat intelligence technology monitors your apps for suspicious behavior and blocks malicious links to help prevent malware from infecting your device. Keep scammers at bay with just a few clicks — download Avast One for free today.

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      FAQs

      Does Venmo ask for a social security number?

      You only have to give your social security number to Venmo in certain cases: if you send $300 or more in one week, if you create a group account, if you transfer $1,000 or more to your bank account in one week, or if you’re a sole proprietor with a business profile and process more than 200 transactions in a calendar year.

      Does Venmo have fraud protection?

      Venmo has a Purchase Protection Program that offers some protection when buying or selling from a business account or a personal account that qualifies. But if you transfer money to a stranger or get scammed on Venmo, you most likely won’t get refunded.

      Will Venmo cover me if I get scammed?

      In most instances, Venmo won’t cover you if you get scammed unless the transaction is covered under the Purchase Protection Program. But you should report the scam to them so they can investigate further.

      Can you charge back on Venmo?

      You can’t request a chargeback on Venmo but you can open a dispute. If you used a debit or credit card to pay for something over Venmo, you can also try to request a chargeback with your linked card issuer.

      Can I Venmo myself?

      You can only Venmo yourself if you have two or more Venmo accounts (each would need a separate linked bank account), although you’re only allowed to have one personal account open. You can’t move money between two different payment methods.

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online (2024)

      FAQs

      How to Avoid Common Venmo Scams & Stay Safe Online? ›

      As a payment app, Venmo might have legitimate reasons to request it. However, don't send this information by email or text (any email or text that asks you to do that is a scam). Instead, always use the mobile app by going to Settings and then Identity Verification.

      How do I protect myself from Venmo scams? ›

      As a payment app, Venmo might have legitimate reasons to request it. However, don't send this information by email or text (any email or text that asks you to do that is a scam). Instead, always use the mobile app by going to Settings and then Identity Verification.

      Can someone steal your bank info from Venmo? ›

      The communication will include a link to a look-alike Venmo website where the scammers can capture your login information. From here, the scammers are able to steal your identity and use your account information to gain greater access to your bank account and your friends and family.

      What are common Venmo scams? ›

      A thief might send you fake screenshots of payment confirmations that show they paid you via Venmo in order to get the item you're selling. Scammers might also say they can only send you payment on Venmo once an item has shipped, which is a flat-out lie.

      How do I protect my identity on Venmo? ›

      To help keep your Venmo account safe, you can create a PIN as another layer of security in your Venmo app. Once you enable this feature, the Venmo app will ask for your PIN every time the app is opened on your device. You may also be asked to confirm your PIN when sending payments to other Venmo users.

      How do I stay safe on Venmo? ›

      Add Authentication

      As with any app, Venmo is susceptible to someone getting into your account if they have access to your phone. You can add a layer of security by enabling Face ID and a PIN. Go to Settings and then select Face ID & PIN and then toggle Enable Face ID & PIN to the on position.

      How do I stop spam on Venmo? ›

      Here's how to get in touch with Venmo about an unauthorized transaction: If you've received a fake Venmo email, you can forward it to phishing@venmo.com. If you receive a fake text, email a screenshot of the text to support@venmo.com. Then delete the email or text from your account.

      Is Zelle safer than Venmo? ›

      Both of the payment services are decently safe, have user-friendly interfaces, and allow you to conveniently send money when you need it. Zelle stands out from Venmo with its absence of instant transfer fees, but it also cannot be used as a wallet. So, if you need a wallet function, you should go for Venmo .

      Why are strangers sending me money on Venmo? ›

      Because we offer a search feature for accounts, occasionally Venmo users may pay strangers by mistake (often with the same name as their friend). In those cases, it's best to contact us to report that you were paid in error, then block the user to prevent the issue from happening in the future.

      Can Venmo be hacked by sending money? ›

      So, we've talked about scams, but can Venmo be hacked as well? Sadly, yes, and this is how the most common scheme works. If someone sends you money from a previously hacked account, claims it was a mistake, and asks you to return the funds to a different account, you might comply.

      How do I stop people from finding me on Venmo? ›

      How to change your privacy settings on Venmo
      1. Open Venmo and tap your profile picture in the bottom right corner of your screen.
      2. Tap the cog icon in the top right corner to open the settings menu.
      3. Go to Privacy.
      4. Under Default privacy settings, make sure you select the bubble next to Private.
      Nov 6, 2023

      How do I increase my privacy on Venmo? ›

      Here's how to make it private. In the smartphone app, click on the profile icon, then the settings icon (looks like a gear). Select Privacy and set the Default Privacy Settings to “Private” (not Public or Friends).

      Will Venmo refund money if scammed? ›

      Will Venmo Refund Money If You've Been Scammed? In most cases, the answer is no. There is no way to cancel a Venmo payment once it's been sent. Venmo also typically doesn't get involved in financial disputes between users (instead, you're better off contacting your bank).

      Will Venmo cover me if I get scammed? ›

      Will Venmo Refund Money If You've Been Scammed? In most cases, the answer is no. There is no way to cancel a Venmo payment once it's been sent. Venmo also typically doesn't get involved in financial disputes between users (instead, you're better off contacting your bank).

      Can Venmo payments be hacked? ›

      So, we've talked about scams, but can Venmo be hacked as well? Sadly, yes, and this is how the most common scheme works. If someone sends you money from a previously hacked account, claims it was a mistake, and asks you to return the funds to a different account, you might comply.

      What is the safest way to receive money from a stranger? ›

      The safest way to receive money from a stranger online is to use secure and reputable payment methods that prioritize user protection. For instance, you can use a platform like PayPal to receive money from someone you haven't met before. You can also use cryptocurrency—it is a practical way.

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