Manage your Venmo Money Safely

Manage your Venmo Money Safely

Sharing money has never been easier, but that doesn’t mean it’s safer.

Venmo is an app that allows individuals to pay and request money from their friends. In a nearly cashless world, this application grants each user the ability to effortlessly split the check into as many ways as needed without inconveniencing who you are providing the payment to. Money can be stored on the account creating a balance or it can be transferred with a small fee to your debit card. Users can avoid the fee by waiting 24 hours for a bank transfer.

With over 70 million customers, the success of Venmo has outweighed all other payment exchanging apps. The app has since expanded its platform to partnering with Mastercard to create a joint debit card linked to the Venmo accounts. There is a way to obtain a Venmo credit card that the app preapproves you for. Certain businesses also provide a QR Code where customers can scan their accounts and Venmo them instead of using cash or a card.

PayPal purchased the payment app in 2013 which has to lead to a variety of new features. It has evolved into a social platform for money exchanges. On the homepage, when you enter the app, you can see the public interactions made by your friends. This little bit of information can tell you a lot. Who is someone hanging out with? Where is someone shopping? What is someone spending their money on? All these details used to be tucked away in the privacy of a bank account. Now they are available for users to track one another.

Venmo has made some strides in the past year to protect users’ social feeds. When Paypal first made changes to the app you could see a worldwide feed of the transactions of people using the app. Due to privacy concerns that feature was removed and users were given new privacy settings, allowing them to select who can see their interactions. Their options include public, friends-only or private. These choices have extended to the friend list as well.

In addition to these changes, Venmo now gives users the ability to block other customers, preventing the other from being able to search for them or view their feed. The blocked user also won’t be able to send or request any payments from the person who blocked them.

Although safety measures have been put into place, Venmo can still be a dangerous application.

Venmo can be home to many common scams. A scammer may ask a user to send them a small amount of money with the promise of receiving a large amount of money. This could be a stranger who got your username through another social media network. Another scam that occurs is when you’re selling a product and a scammer falsifies information to make it appear as though they have paid you when they, unfortunately, have not. The same thing can happen if you are purchasing a product and the individual accepts your payment without providing the merchandise.

Individuals may also change their profile picture and username to impersonate someone the user knows personally. They may request money usually for an unusual and time-sensitive reason. Other examples of scams can include an online employer who wants you to send money through Venmo for onboarding expenses and supplies or a new landlord who wants your rent deposit without them providing the appropriate paperwork or keys. There have also been reports of people asking to exchange phone numbers and instead, they are Venmoing themselves cash from your account.

Due to Venmo being easily accessible by anyone, it can be used by individuals participating in exploitation. On social media apps like Instagram, individuals will make connections and offer to give young people money in exchange for time, company, content, etc. They will ask to connect the payments through Venmo. A sign that someone may be exploited is large sums of money coming in and out of their account from a specific username.

If you have a child with Venmo be sure to ask the following questions when reviewing their transaction feed…

  1. Where did this money come from? 
  2. Who have you exchanged money with? 
  3. Why do you use Venmo? 
  4. Have you ever given out your Venmo username over social media? 
  5. Is your bank account or debit card connected? 
  6. Does anyone else have access to your Venmo account? 
  7. Do you have a Venmo debit card or credit card? 
  8. Has anyone you don’t know ever requested money from you or sent you money?

Safety should be any Venmo user’s top priority. Smart Gen has put together some helpful tips for protecting your account and your personal information…

  • Set your audience to private. The default setting on Venmo goes to the public. This means anyone can see your transactions. If you choose to not go completely private, limit your account to friends-only. 
  • Even if you have a PIN code for your phone, you should create a separate PIN code specifically for Venmo. If someone accesses your phone they can easily Venmo themselves from your balance. By making a separate PIN for your Venmo it adds an extra level of security in case your phone gets into the wrong hands. 
  • Turn on notifications. When you turn on notifications it is easier to be alerted of unusual activity on your account. The sooner you can catch suspicious transactions, the easier it is to return your account to the proper balance. 
  • Only interact with people you know in real life. If someone requests money from your account that you don’t recognize, first, screenshot the transactions and then block and report them.

When you choose to use Venmo make sure you take the necessary steps to remain safe by protecting yourself and your information.

This information does not guarantee online safety and is provided as a courtesy of Smart Gen Society. SGS is not legally responsible for your family's digital planning or safety.