Wondering if Venmo’s safe? Here’s what you should know

Gabriela Peratello
05.25.21
5 minute read

It’s one thing for people to know what type of music you like, but it’s a totally different one for them to know your bank account information. The internet has lots of services that make it more convenient to move money around, but many often fall short when it comes to security.

Apps and websites that handle people’s money for different purposes have remained targets for hackers, fraudsters, etc., so it’s only normal to wonder whether money transferring apps, like Venmo, are safe.

With that in mind, let’s talk about how secure Venmo is, linking bank accounts, safe funding methods, scams on the platform and another safe alternative, Wise.

How secure is Venmo?

Venmo is regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and it follows a number of practices to ensure that it’s compliant with the relevant security standards. Firstly, under no circumstances will Venmo support agents contact a user to request for their password or verification code to their account¹.

Secondly, Venmo uses encryption to protect user account information and they also track account activity to spot any unauthorized transactions. You can always contact Venmo through their support email if you suspect that there’s been unauthorized activity regarding your account.

The Venmo website uses the HTTPs protocol and stores encrypted account details on servers in secure locations. Thirdly, Venmo allows you to disable a device from accessing your account in case you’ve lost it or had it stolen. All you have to do is:

  1. Go to their website
  2. Access your Settings
  3. Select Security
  4. Remove the session associated with that device

This action signs you out of the account on that device. You can also add more layers of protection to your Venmo account by setting up multi-factor authentication and adding a pin code through the app.

Additionally, businesses intending to use Venmo have to submit an application and get authorization. Venmo also encourages security researchers to report vulnerabilities that they may discover within the service.

Is it safe to link a bank account to Venmo?

Venmo holds in place a few measures which help ensure your account’s safety. First of all, the platform allows you to choose what bank account can or can’t be added for when you’re using their services. You can specify which payment method to use for particular purposes, be it Venmo debit card reloads, online purchases or paying friends.

Venmo also allows you to choose a mode of verification for your bank account, that is, instant or manual. This ensures that the bank account is available for sending money back and forth before you start any transfers. The verification step also helps you confirm that you’ve used the right bank credentials to avoid failed or lost transfers².

💡 Send money locally and internationally without having to link your bank account! With Wise, all you have to choose is your preferred payment method ― such as ACH, wire transfer or bank card ― and they’ll take care of the rest.

Learn more

Safest funding methods

There are a number of ways to fund your Venmo account such as credit cards, debit cards and US bank accounts. The safest method is usually the credit card, with the debit card being number two³.

This is because credit card services typically come with encryption and other online security features like fraud monitoring. The process of linking a credit card to your Venmo account also involves close attention to other details like zip code or address changes.

Bank accounts come in at number three since there’s a higher chance of having lost transfers when bank credentials are incorrect or if the bank that was used doesn’t support the Venmo connection for a specific type of account.

Scams with Venmo

On their website, Venmo lists which are the most common scams and schemes that customers should be aware of in order to avoid future hassles. Below you can find a breakdown of these scenarios⁴.

One of the most common scams on Venmo is the pyramid scheme, also known as money circle or cash wheel. It’s basically someone telling you to send them a certain amount of money and wait for a short while, after which you’ll receive a multiplied amount, say double, triple, 10X, etc. Never send these people your money because they won’t send anything back to you.

Another common scam on Venmo happens when you’re trying to sell to people. They may show you screenshots of fake email receipts, or claim that they’ve made a payment that you’ll only be able to receive once you ship the products and upload the shipping information. They may even use stolen credit card information to make the payment, meaning that the money could eventually be taken back.

The reverse of this scam is also present on Venmo. Someone trying to sell you products may show you fake shipping information screenshots in order to receive money from you and not send the goods.

Impersonation scams also happen on Venmo. Someone may change their username and profile picture to pose as your friend, then go through information shared in the public feed to learn more about your friend’s circle. They will go on to request money from people in this circle and make it seemingly urgent.

Scams may also come in the form of requests for deposits on new rental agreements that are still in the works, or paying for onboarding and application processing costs for a new job yet to be awarded.

🔐 There are a few ways in which you can stay safe and avoid getting scammed such as⁵:
    • Don’t click on or interact with suspicious links and profiles
    • Don’t log into your account and make transactions on public WiFi, or better yet, avoid public WiFi altogether
    • Don’t transact on many random devices, and keep the ones you use up-to-date
    • Don’t just share any personal or payment-related information with people you hardly know
    • Use a distinct password and change it if you suspect an unauthorized activity
    • Set up a pin and multi-factor authentication
    • Only deal with people and businesses you trust
    • Monitor your account activity through push notifications
    • Always sign out of your account after using Venmo services

    What happens if you get scammed on Venmo?

    If you discover an unauthorized transaction regarding your Venmo account, you can reach out to Venmo through their contact form, their support email (support@venmo.com), or chat with them within the app. For unauthorized activity on your Venmo credit card, you can visit this page and call Synchrony Bank at 855-878-6462⁶.

    Need to send or receive money? Meet Wise

    If you want to safely transfer money both within and outside the US, you should consider alternatives like Wise. Wise is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and therefore meets some of the highest standards for protecting consumers against fraud, internet scams and other unfair business practices.

    Though all these measures are in place, it’s always a good idea to follow the tips shared above and to avoid falling victim to badly intended people!

    Besides being a safe option, Wise allows you to send money in a quick, easy and cheap way. As there’s no intermediaries and conversion fees.

    Start saving now 🚀


    Venmo manages to embed important security measures within their platform. However, its social aspect creates room for malicious actors who aren’t necessarily hackers. It’s easy for someone to follow information from public feeds and build a scheme similar to social engineering.

    This is why it’s important to have alternatives like Wise that provide affordable and international money transfer services, while making it harder for fraudsters to exploit your information.


    Sources:

    1. Venmo - Security
    2. Venmo - Adding a bank account
    3. Venmo - Adding a credit or debit card
    4. Venmo - Common scams on Venmo
    5. The Balance - Is Venmo safe
    6. Venmo - What do I do if there’s an unauthorized charge on my account?
    7. Wise - Is PayPal safe

    Sources checked on 06.30.2021


    💡 More on Venmo

    This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

    Wise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

    Find out more

    Tips, news and updates for your location