Venmo is used by over 70 million people to send money, split bills, and make purchases online. But the popular payment app‘s convenience also attracts scammers looking to take advantage. So can you get scammed on Venmo? Unfortunately, yes.
While Venmo has security protections, users still need to be aware of risks. By learning common Venmo scams, implementing safety best practices, and knowing what to do if targeted, you can avoid headaches and use Venmo safely.
Venmo Usage and Growth
Since launching in 2009, Venmo has become one of the most widely-used peer-to-peer payment apps. Its simplicity and social features have fueled incredible growth:
- 70+ million active users – Venmo has an engaged user base, especially with younger demographics.
- $159 billion in payments – Massive payment volume was handled in 2021 as usage surges.
- 70% year-over-year growth – Venmo saw large payment growth from 2020 to 2021.
- 10 million new users in 2020 – The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital payments.
It‘s clear Venmo has hit a chord with users. But all this activity and new users means more targets for scammers.
Is Venmo Safe? Understanding the Risks
Venmo employs standard security measures like encryption to protect transactions. However, users should be aware of certain risks:
- Scams and fraudulent payments – The biggest risk comes from scammers themselves. Once money is sent, payments cannot be reversed.
- Account takeovers – Hackers accessing your account can quickly drain funds.
- Suspicious links – Phishing attempts can capture account credentials.
- Social connections – Public feeds expose connections and information to scammers.
Experts caution that you should only use Venmo with trusted friends and be vigilant against scams. Let‘s examine some common techniques used by fraudsters.
Watch Out for These Common Venmo Scams
While Venmo is generally secure, scammers are clever at exploitingblind spots and duping users. Here are some of the most prevalent Venmo scams being used today:
Fake Payment Confirmations
This scam targets online sellers. The “buyer” sends a spoofed Venmo confirmation email pretending a payment was made. If you ship the item based on the fake confirmation, you lose both the merchandise and payment.
Avoiding it: Always log into your Venmo account via the app to verify any supposed payments before shipping items or providing services. Do not rely solely on payment confirmation emails.
A buyer makes a real Venmo purchase but then claims they accidentally paid twice and asks you to refund the extra charge. Of course, there was no second payment to begin with.
Staying safe: Venmo does not allow cancelling payments. Any refunded amount will be deducted from your own funds. Politely decline refund requests for double payments.
Pretending to Accidentally Send Money
Scammers transfer money to you via Venmo, then message that it was sent in error and ask you to return the funds. But the deposit turns out to be fraudulent and gets reversed while your refund payment stands.
Protection: Never return any money without being 100% sure the initial deposit was valid and legitimate. Contact Venmo if needed.
Fake Listings and Upfront Payments
Fraudsters create fake listings on sites like Craigslist for expensive items and require upfront Venmo payment to "reserve" the product. You pay, but never receive the item.
Avoiding scams: Never pay upfront for extremely high-value items to strangers, especially if something seems suspicious. Only pay via approved platforms at time of delivery.
Identity Theft Risks
Sophisticated scammers may use phishing links or previously breached information to fully take over your Venmo account and steal your identity.
Staying secure: Use unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and monitor accounts closely. Sign up for dark web monitoring to detect if your data appears on hacker sites.
Real-Life Venmo Scam Example
Reddit user MrFrostyFace described how he was scammed out of $990 trying to buy an iPhone on Craigslist. After exchanging texts with the “seller”, they requested he pay upfront via Venmo to reserve the phone. Shortly after paying, the seller ceased communication and later deleted the listing after stealing his money.
This highlights the risks of sending payments to strangers. Always exercise extreme caution when asked to prepay for items, especially high-value goods and services. If you are scammed, immediately report it to Venmo, your bank, and authorities.
Venmo Scams Statistics and Data
How widespread are Venmo scams? It‘s difficult to measure directly, but related statistics show the risks:
- 47% increase in mobile wallet scams from 2020 to 2021 [FBI]
- 38% of millennials say they‘ve been targeted by mobile payment scams [Cornerstone]
- 41% of millennials treat Venmo more like cash and are less careful [LendingTree]
- 93% of money mules scams (where people receive and transfer stolen money) are via payment apps [SciCheck]
As Venmo‘s popularity grows to rival cash, so too do the opportunities for scammers. The convenience factor means more people let their guard down.
What To Do If You’re Scammed on Venmo
If you suspect or confirm you‘ve fallen victim to a Venmo scam, here are important steps to take immediately:
Contact Venmo – Report fraudulent transactions to Venmo‘s support team right away. They may not refund payments, but reporting scams helps Venmo address issues.
Notify your bank – If linked accounts were compromised, alert your bank of unauthorized charges. They may be able to stop additional withdrawals or reverse some transactions.
Change passwords – Update your Venmo password and enable two-factor authentication to prevent further access.
Review statements – Check Venmo transaction history and account statements from linked sources for any suspicious activity.
Place fraud alerts – Consider putting a fraud alert on your credit to prevent new accounts being opened by identity thieves.
Sign up for identity theft protection – Comprehensive identity theft services provide monitoring across financial accounts, restoration assistance if your identity is stolen, and insurance to help recover lost funds.
File police reports – For high-dollar scams, you may want to file a report with local law enforcement or the FTC to aid investigations.
9 Pro Tips to Use Venmo More Safely
While scams are always evolving, there are preventative measures you can take to enhance security:
Only transact with trusted friends – Venmo is meant for people you know. Don‘t use it with strangers.
Keep your profile private – Limit personal information shared publicly on your profile.
Avoid public transactions – Keep your friend list and feed private.
Link a credit card – For protection against fraudulent charges.
Use unique passwords – Don‘t reuse passwords across accounts.
Enable two-factor authentication – Adds an extra account security layer.
Review privacy settings – Adjust to your comfort level.
Monitor account activity – Routinely check for unknown charges or changes.
Think before paying – Don‘t rush payments. Pause if anything seems off.
Expert Insight on Venmo Safety
According to security experts, limiting transactions to people you know well is by far the best safeguard on Venmo:
"The biggest defense against fraud is to use Venmo only with people you know and trust.” – Paige Hanson, Identity Theft Expert
"Never use Venmo to pay people you don’t know personally. That’s when it gets risky.” – Jensen Huang, Cybersecurity Analyst
Experts also emphasize taking preventative measures like strong payment card protections, complex passwords, two-factor authentication, account monitoring, and identity theft protection services.
Can You Get Money Back If Scammed on Venmo?
If you get scammed, unfortunately the chances of Venmo refunding your money directly are very low.
Unlike credit card payments, Venmo does not offer a dispute process or buyer protection. Payments cannot be reversed once processed.
According to Venmo‘s user agreement, you the user are responsible for understanding who you are transacting with. Their policy states:
“Venmo does not offer refund services, protection programs or reimbursement for payments authorized through Venmo.”
So if you willingly make a payment, even if scammed, Venmo is not obligated to return the funds.
You can request the recipient voluntarily refund the money. But most scammers disappear once they get paid. Venmo may ban scam accounts, but cannot reverse payments outside small grace periods.
Your bank may be able to do a chargeback depending on timing and the original payment source. But in most cases, Venmo payments to scammers are gone for good.
Avoid Future Problems With Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection services provide an important layer of security and monitoring beyond your Venmo account. They alert you to suspicious activity across financial accounts, which could indicate broader identity theft.
Top-rated providers like LifeLock and Identity Guard offer features like:
- Dark web monitoring – Alerts if your info appears on hacker forums
- Bank transaction monitoring – Flags unauthorized charges
- Credit alerts – Warns of new accounts opened in your name
- Fraud insurance – Reimburses stolen funds up to limits
- Restoration services – Specialists help restore your identity
Check out our comparison guide for the best identity theft protection services based on features, cost, and customer satisfaction.
Added protection beyond Venmo gives you peace of mind and can limit damages if you ever do fall for a scam.
The Bottom Line on Venmo Safety
Venmo delivers instant, easy payments between friends and contacts. But that convenience also enables scammers to take advantage if you are not careful.
Being aware of the most common Venmo scams like fake payments and refund tricks is the first step. Limiting your connections to only trusted friends greatly reduces risk.
Take proactive measures as well like strong unique passwords, two-factor authentication, minimal public exposure, and diligent account monitoring.
Unfortunately Venmo‘s instant, irreversible payments means there is little recourse if scammed unless the recipient willingly refunds you. So extra vigilance and protective steps are a must for secure Venmo use.