Venmo: The Scams And How To Protect Yourself - LIFESTYLE

Mikki Krause Written by Mikki Krause
Last Updated: 12/1/2020
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Venmo: The Scams And How To Protect Yourself

What Is Venmo And How Does Venmo Work?

With new leading payment technologies like Venmo and PayPal, the days of "I Owe Yous," checks and cash payments may soon be over. You can now use these Apps to conveniently pay friends and family and also make payments for services and goods.

Venmo is a payment service accessible via an App through mobile devices and a website. Venmo was started by two University of Pennsylvania students, Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail in 2009. The company was bought for $800 million by PayPal. Venmo links your debit card to the app, and from there, you can send money to any user by typing in their first and last name or phone number or email. You can then type in the amount of money you would like to transfer over. There is even a comment section you can add to your payment.

The app has a feed attached to it and allows anyone to look at people's comments on their payments and who the payment was to. You cannot see how much money someone transferred, but everything else is out in the open for the public viewing. This “social engagement” feature adds value and user engagement, in the view of Venmo.

There are three separate feeds in Venmo: one between you and your transfers, all of your phone contacts transfers, and transfers from people worldwide. Venmo has become a new way for people to shop at farmers' markets, pay their rent, repay their friends and co-workers.

Is Venmo Safe?

When Venmo launched in 2009, they had few regulations set up for their product to prevent money laundering. Not only that, but the users on this app did not have to be verified - meaning anyone could set up accounts, including fake ones. Many people took advantage of Venmo's weak security (early on) and began scamming. Scammers would set up accounts using stolen credit card numbers to make payments, and it worked. Other people would log in to real active accounts and steal innocent people's money. Some people would use Venmo to pay for items online, but once the item arrived or shipped to their doorstep, they would cancel the payment. One of the creators of Venmo said that they saw hundreds of thousands of dollars go missing in just one night.

However, now, after the acquisition by Paypal, the security features on Venmo are much more robust, and money laundering is no longer a significant issue on the app. But that does not mean that Venmo is 100% flawless.

Unfortunately, where there is money, there are criminals. Currently, Venmo uses unique protocols to keep your bank information safe by using encryption. Venmo also gives people the option to set up a PIN code for app users. This safety feature gives any Venmo user an extra layer of security. Also, keep in mind that Venmo was created to perform fast and easy transactions between friends and people that know and trust each other, not for strangers to transfer money to one another. Venmo recommends that you avoid buying goods and services from people you don’t know, including from online marketplaces like Craigslist, because they can lead to scams. Venmo does not offer buyer protection services, which is why it is critical to know who you are interacting with on the money-sharing app. (More on how to help you with this below.)

Venmo Scams

Scams happen almost everywhere, including on Venmo. As mentioned earlier, Venmo's purpose is to help make it easier for friends to transfer money between each other, not between strangers. However, not everyone follows this rule, and because of that, people tend to fall for Venmo scams. For example, let’s say you want to sell an iphone using Craigslist and the buyer lives too far for you to meet, and the buyer would like you to ship the phone and would like to pay you using Venmo , then you would have to rely on online payments. The buyer of the T.V. tells you that they prefer to use Venmo to purchase the item. Of course, the scammer transfers the money to you via Venmo before you ship the phone. You get the transfer and send the phone. Then, a couple of days later, you realize that the money in your Venmo account has disappeared. Likely, the scammer used a stolen credit card or bank card to set up the Venmo account. Once the owner of the stolen card or account realized the theft and reported it to the bank, Venmo recaptured the funds from you, according to their Terms of Service. You are now out of a phone. The address you sent it to was either a PO Box which has been closed, or the scammer sent it to a 3rd party location, and picked up the delivery.

Catfishing is another technique used to scam people off of Venmo. Some people will create fake profiles of people using other people's names and profile pictures that match perfectly. That way, when someone is typing in their friend's name to pay them money in Venmo, two of the same accounts will pop up, creating a 50/50 chance that the scammer will receive your payment. The best way to prevent being Venmo scammed is by asking your friend which version is theirs. Sometimes people accidentally send money to the wrong user. The person that received the improper payment is not necessarily a scammer, but getting the money back could be a real hassle.

Another scam involves someone sending you money on Venmo using a stolen credit or debit card, and asking you to pay them back by sending them gift cards along with some fantasy story, which tugs on your heartstrings.

How To Protect Yourself From Venmo Scams

If you want to protect yourself from Venmo scams, you have multiple options. These options include setting up a PIN for each time you enter your Venmo account. This safety feature will ensure that you and only you can get access to your money. Another great option is to keep a small balance in your Venmo. Venmo has this feature where you can transfer your Venmo balance straight into your bank account.

Also, check your account regularly. This will help you see any suspicious in your account. You can complete this by looking at your profile, which shows all the most recent transactions you have made and who received the money.

But overall, the best way to stay safe when using Venmo is only paying and receiving money from people you know, or people you have verified.

How To Verify Someone Before Sending Money On Venmo Or Paypal

Again, Venmo and Paypal were created to send and receive money between people you already know. But, what about using the convenience of Venmo or Paypal to pay someone you don't know, or don't know very well?

One great solution is using new, advanced people search technology to instantly and confidentially verify the person is who they say they are. It’s simple, highly effective, and inexpensive.

Here’s how it works. New, advanced people search engines ( is one of our favorites) give you instant and confidential access to nearly a BILLION public records on any person in the U.S. Here’s how you use it:

  1. Ask the person (in this case, your counterpart on Venmo or Paypal, but it could be anyone you would like to verify) for their name and location (city and state) or their address (both will work).
  2. Go to and input their name and location (or address) into GladiKnow's people search engine and instantly get a confidential report on the person including a search for that person’s REAL age, addresses and address history, emails, phones, relatives, employment history, education history, social media profiles, criminal records, sex offender records, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, civil records, traffic and infraction records, licenses, permits, and much more.
  3. Then COMPARE! Armed with the ACTUAL (real) information on the person they say they are, ask him or her about where they have lived, their age, employment and education history, relatives, email addresses and phone numbers, or any bit of information you choose from the report in front of you. Obviously, if the person is a scammer, he or she will certainly not give you real information which would reveal their true identity. If this is the case, you will instantly see a mismatch between what they are telling you and what you know to be true from their report. Congratulations, you have just revealed a scammer!

(Obviously, this process works perfectly in ANY circumstance where you want to learn more or the truth about someone, from online dating to roommates and classmates, to new friends or romantic interests - the list goes on!) For more information on the new, advanced people search engines, check out this great video.


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