The 10 Most Common Venmo Scams

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Venmo is a person-to-person payment app owned by PayPal, Inc. The app was designed to make monetary transactions easy and fast without the limitations of cash transactions. Venmo has been called “the love child of email and texting,” and it can be used for many online transactions such as ticket purchases, bills, and even restaurant orders.

Venmo is a service offered by PayPal that allows users to transfer money to one another using their debit card or your bank account. The money is transferred immediately, but the transaction takes three to five business days for the money to appear on the recipient’s Venmo account.

The term scam is used to describe a situation in which someone has been tricked out of their money. The trust inherent in social media platforms like Venmo serves as the perfect breeding ground for scammers, with over $8 million loss last year alone. While Venmo doesn’t want you to see its service as insecure, it’s still important to be aware of the most common scams.

The following is a list of the most common Venmo scams you should watch out for:

List Of Common Venmo Scams

The Fake Payment

This scam is very simple in its execution. The thief creates an email address that closely resembles someone you know and sends you a request to pay them with your Venmo balance or through a debit/credit card. The best way to avoid this scam is to not click on any links or open any attachments from people you don’t know. The email might come in the form of a direct message (DM) and not an actual request for payment, so be vigilant when it comes to clicking on messages from Venmo users you do not know.

The Fake Venmo Username

This scam is very similar to The Fake Payment scam. The thief creates an email address that closely resembles someone you know and sends you a request from a fake Venmo username. The best way to avoid this scam is to not click on any links or open any attachments from people you don’t know. The email might come in the form of a DM and not an actual request for payment, so be vigilant when it comes to clicking on messages from Venmo users you do not know. The fake username will usually closely resemble somebody you actually know, but with one small change (e.g., mike-smith instead of smith).

The Coffee Scam

The one key difference with The Coffee Scam is that the request for payment (to Starbucks) is usually made in person. The thief will use Venmo to pay for their share of the coffee and ask you to transfer the money back through Venmo. The scammer will hope you’ll be in a hurry or think about it too long and send them money before realizing it’s a scam.

The Coffee Scam is a good example of why the lack of buyer/seller protection in Venmo is very dangerous. The thief will not be held accountable for their actions, which is a big problem if you don’t know who you’re dealing with. The most reliable way to avoid this scam is to simply not transfer any funds through Venmo until you know the person you’re dealing with on a personal level. The thief will usually try to pressure you into sending them money quickly because they want to use the time it takes for you to think about it as an excuse to scam you.

The Venmo Security Check

The Venmo Security Check is a scam that occurs when somebody sends you a message through Venmo that tells you to transfer money into their account because they’ve been locked out of theirs. The best way to avoid The Venmo Security Check is to remember that only the person who registered the account can reset the password and that Venmo customer service will never contact you asking for you to send them money. The only way to avoid The Venmo Security Check is to ignore all incoming messages from people you don’t know asking for money.

Romance Scam

The thief will pretend to be somebody using Venmo messages. The messages will usually lead you on for a number of weeks, but the end goal is always to get money from you. The best way to avoid The Romance Scam is to not transfer any funds through Venmo until you know the person you are sending money to extremely well.

The Reward Scam

In the Reward Scam, the request for payment (the reward) is usually made in person. The thief will use Venmo to pay for their share of the reward and ask you to transfer the money back through Venmo. The scammer will hope you’ll be in a hurry or think about it too long and send them money before realizing it’s a scam. We recommend only using Venmo for transactions with friends and family, as Venmo doesn’t offer buyer or seller protection.

The Gas Station Scam

The thief will typically send a Venmo message asking for gas money after you’ve hung out with them. The thief is hoping you won’t notice that their account name has changed from how it was when you were hanging out together, and will instead assume they have a new username that vaguely resembles your friend’s old username (for example an(“mike”)) The best way to avoid The Gas Station Scam is to remember that Venmo customer service will never contact you asking for you to send them money. The only way to avoid The Gas Station Scam is to ignore all incoming messages from people you don’t know asking for money.

Fake Apartment Rentals

The thief will pretend to post an apartment for rent and request you send them money through Venmo. The thief is hoping you won’t notice that the messages are fake, so the messages may be slightly different from how your friend would normally message you. The only way to avoid The Fake Apartment Rental Scam is to ignore all incoming messages from people you don’t know asking for money.

The Purchase Scam

The thief will ask the victim to buy an expensive product on their behalf so they can receive it in person. The scammer will use Venmo to pay for their share of the purchase and ask you to transfer them the money back through Venmo. The best way to avoid The Purchase Scam is to remember that only the person who registered the account can reset the password and that Venmo customer service will never contact you asking for you to send them money. The messages will usually lead you on for a number of weeks, but the end goal is always to get money from you.

The Circle Game

The thief will pretend to send you a Venmo message with a link attached. The link will lead you to a fake login page so they can steal your username and password The best way to avoid The Circle Game is to only visit the official Venmo login website for mobile devices. The easiest way to avoid The Circle Game is not to click any links in messages from people you don’t know. The Circle Game scam is easy to avoid but can be difficult to detect. The link won’t lead you where it says it will, and the only safe login website for mobile devices uses a green address bar.

How to stay safe banking online?

The following measures should be taken when banking online:

Use Dual Passwords

Some customers opt to create two different passwords, one for their email accounts and another for everything else. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible to remember two separate passwords. This doubles security measures.

Avoid Free Wi-Fi

Avoid free Wi-Fi networks when logging into your online bank account. It is never a good idea to access any of your personal information over an unsecured connection. Finally, avoid public devices, such as those commonly found in cafes or libraries.

Do not use the same password

Use the same password for all of your accounts. If someone manages to log in to one account with a weak password, they will have access to all of them.

Unique Password

Do not use passwords that can be easily guessed or found online, such as birthdays and other significant dates.

Use Strong Passwords

It is very important to use strong passwords for your digital bank account. A good password should be at least eight characters long and contain both letters and numbers, as well as symbols such as $, #, and &.

Do Legitimate Research

It is not a good idea to open any account without doing some research first. Take the time to look online for both positive and negative reviews of the bank in question, as well as look at their legal documents such as licenses and permits.

Seek Professional Advice

Before opening an account, always consult a professional like a registered financial advisor or a certified public accountant (CPA). These professionals will be able to help you set up the account and keep it safe.

Never Share Login Information

It is important not to share your login information with anyone, even close friends or family members. Doing so may risk having your information stolen or compromised.

Get a Financial Record Keeper

It is best to get a professional or financially relevant person as your record keepers, such as parents or someone of authority. Keep everyone involved updated on the current password and change it often so no one else can obtain it.

Keep an Eye Out for Fake Emails

Do not open any email from your digital bank that contains links, as this may be a sign of a phishing scam. Legitimate banks will never send out any links in an email and will only ask for passwords and other personal information over the phone or through official correspondence.

How to use Venmo safely?

  1. Never give your Venmo login info, pin, or card number to anyone.
  2. The only place you can reset your password is on the official website, and customer service will never contact you asking for a payment.
  3. The easiest way to avoid The Circle Game is to not click any links in messages from people you don’t know. The link won’t lead you where it says it will, and the only safe login website for mobile devices uses a green address bar.
  4. The Romance Scam is easy to avoid but can be difficult to detect. The only way to avoid The Romance Scam is to ignore all incoming messages from people you don’t know asking for money The messages will usually lead you on for a number of weeks, but the end goal is always to get money from you.
  5. The only way to avoid The Gas Station Scam is to remember that Venmo customer service will never contact you asking for you to send them money.

What is Venmo security?

Venmo’s website boasts that the app is secure and that all transactions between users are private, meaning there is no way to tell who paid what or how much. This also means that there will be no information tied to the transaction if it goes missing or if someone’s account gets hacked.

Users can set up a PIN for their Venmo accounts so that only those whom they trust can access and use the account. This is useful for those who do not want their roommates to be able to take anything from their Venmo balance or those who don’t want others using their accounts. When users send each other money, it remains in a virtual “Venmo wallet” until the recipient decides what to put it toward.

Conclusion

The 10 Most Common Venmo Scams will be useful to people who are wary of using digital bank accounts, including using the app called Venmo. The 10 Most Common Venmo Scams will be less useful to people who are already familiar with the risks of using digital bank accounts and especially Venmo. The 10 Most Common Venmo Scams will be very helpful to people looking for professional advice about opening or using a digital bank account, such as which account is best by analyzing the security features.

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.

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