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5 Common Venmo Scams

Linda Collins - October 18, 2021

5 Common Venmo Scams

As online shopping has become more popular, the demand for easy and convenient digital payments and transfers has increased. As a result, we’ve been furnished with such convenient applications as PayPal, Interac E-transfer, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay, to name a few.

Although these applications make shopping online easier, they do open the way for hackers to create new and unique ways to scam unsuspecting users. Of particular prominence is the plethora of Venmo scams currently plaguing users.

What is Venmo, and Is Venmo Safe?

Venmo is an app for iPhone and Android offered by PayPal that allows users to send and receive money. However, it requires that users link their accounts to either a credit card, checking account, or debit card. In this way, Venmo acts as a virtual fiscal intermediary.

Venmo employs data encryption technology to protect users from unauthorized transactions. Additionally, they store user information on servers in secure locations. However, despite these precautions, hackers and scammers have still been able to penetrate the Venmo app.

Through a variety of means, hackers have been able to access user accounts and then transfer their Venmo balance to a new bank account. Furthermore, these scammers will change the user’s linked email address so the user doesn’t get transaction notifications, leaving the user in the dark until the bank finally notifies them that a balance change has occurred. 

Venmo is meant to be used for money transfers between friends and family. Therefore, the platform doesn’t offer the buyer protection offered by credit cards and PayPal. In other words, Venmo is akin to a cash transaction. Therefore, when using Venmo, you need to be careful and take steps towards protecting yourself online so as to avoid having your account hacked.

5 Venmo Scams to Watch Out For

5 Venmo Scams to Watch Out For

Venmo scams are easy to fall for because of the personality traits of the scammers. These people tend to be adept at manipulation, well-researched, and sneaky. They employ tricks like social engineering to convince people to take actions that leave their personal information vulnerable. And just when you think you know all the ways hackers can scam you, they come up with new ones and catch you unawares. Still, the best way to protect yourself from a Venmo scam is to understand the most commonly employed tactics.

Offer to Increase Venmo Balance

A typical Venmo scam involves a criminal asking you to send them a small sum of money to receive a larger amount in return. For instance, they may promise that if you send them $100, you will get $1000 back in one week.

This type of scam is known by several different titles such as cash wheel, pyramid scheme, and money circle. Regardless, the old adage of if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, is crucial here. In other words, no one would ever really make this offer to you, so use your common sense and block them from communicating with you.

Using a Stolen Credit Card to “Accidentally Send You Money”

Accidents happen, and someone might send you money through Venmo accidentally. However, it could also be a trick.

Scammers will use a stolen credit card or bank account number to send you money through Venmo, then ask you to send it back. The money you send will go to the criminal’s personal card, and meanwhile, the stolen funds will get removed from your account.

Venmo Phishing and Smishing

Phishing is the false practice of sending emails under the guise of representing a reputable company to entice a person to reveal personal information such as passwords, company data, credit card numbers, etc. Smishing is phishing but through text messages. Basically, instead of using email, criminals use text messages to accomplish their goals.

Phishing and smishing messages tend to feel urgent, and as a result, many people take the bait. In the case of Venmo phishing or smishing scams, the message will likely con you into clicking a disguised link which will take you to a fake Venmo log-in page. The minute you enter your credentials into the fake log-in, the scammers will be able to access your account.

Catfishing on Venmo

Catfishing is a term used to describe circumstances where a person tricks someone into believing they’re a person other than who they are. When it comes to Venmo, scammers will pretend to be someone you know. To do this, they will create a profile that mimics that of your friend or family member, fooling you into believing they are that person. Then, the criminal will send you a payment request, and they’ll trick you into accepting it. Therefore, you should always take a close look at a person’s profile whenever you receive a payment request. You might even consider calling said person to verify the request. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Selling Hard to Track Items at Low Prices

A common scam used by criminals is to lure victims with popular or hard-to-find items such as electronics or concert tickets. They’ll likely offer you a ridiculously good deal so long as you pay them through Venmo. However, after you’ve paid them, you’ll never hear from them again, and you’ll never receive what you paid for. Unfortunately, unlike with other payment methods, Venmo offers you no recourse for getting your money back. Therefore, you should avoid using Venmo to do anything other than sending and receiving money from close friends and family.

What Should You Do if You’ve Been Scammed on Venmo?

If you believe you’re a victim of a Venmo scam, you first need to report the incident to Venmo Security Support. Next, cut off all contact with the scammer. Then, you should consider contacting the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) and inform them that you lost money. Once this is done, you’ll want to change your Venmo account password by choosing a unique passphrase with 12 characters or more. You should also change the passwords for any accounts linked to Venmo. Also, be sure not to use the same password for multiple accounts. Each account needs its own unique password.

How to Protect Yourself from Venmo Scams

The best way to protect yourself from Venmo scams is to only send and receive money with people you know and trust. In other words, never use Venmo for a transaction with a third party. Instead, use a service with buyer protection, like PayPal. Furthermore, you should always verify who you’re sending and receiving money from by checking their profile or contacting them personally. This is especially important if a payment request comes when you’re not expecting it.

You also need to avoid clicking links in text messages or emails that come to you out of the blue. Most of the time, these links are scams. However, if you have doubts about the security of your account, contact Venmo’s customer service. Although, make sure to do so through the official Venmo website and not through the link sent to you.

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