Is Venmo Safe?
So You Can Avoid Losing Funds
Money transfer apps make sending and receiving money simple, but is Venmo safe? That may be the most important question you have about using this money transfer app. If you're looking for peace of mind where your finances are concerned, it's helpful to understand Venmo's security features and how they work.
Is Venmo Safe?
Venmo works by linking your bank account and/or credit card accounts to your Venmo account. This is what allows you to send or receive money to and from friends, family or anyone else who uses the app. The Venmo platform uses an application programming interface (API) to process transactions between people who are sending and receiving money.
According to the company's website, Venmo uses encryption protocols to secure and protect personal and financial data for its users. At one point, the company described its security measures as being "bank-grade" but that wording has since been removed from the website. Venmo says that user information is stored on servers in secure locations.
So, at a glance, it would seem that Venmo is safe. But, it's not foolproof. If someone were to get their hands on your PIN or account login details—and you haven’t set up multifactor authentication—it's possible that they could use the app to fraudulently transfer money out of your bank account.
How Can I Make My Venmo Safer?
The app allows you to add another layer of protection by creating a PIN code in the app and setting up multifactor authentication. Enabling a PIN means that code has to be entered each time the app is opened in order to access it. You can pair a PIN code with fingerprint identification if your device has that feature.
Multifactor authentication is a two-step verification process that requires a unique code to access your account. Venmo does this by texting or emailing you a unique code that you'll need to enter in order to log in.
If you lose your phone or you suspect someone is trying to access it, you can block your Venmo account from your phone. You can go into your Venmo settings from a laptop or other mobile device and remove the session associated with your phone. This automatically logs your device out of the app.
As well, you may inadvertently reveal payments, recipients, and payment reasons to anyone on the internet, due to Venmo’s social-sharing capabilities.
Check your default privacy settings to ensure that you’re in control of payment visibility.
How to Avoid Losing Money With Venmo
There are certain things you can do to increase your safety when using Venmo (or any other money transfer app) to send and receive funds. Use these tips to protect yourself and your account.
1. Choose a Unique Password
When setting up your Venmo account password, steer clear of passwords that might be easy to guess. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Instead of choosing a complete word, consider using a unique and uncommon acronym or phrase, which could make it harder for a hacker to identify. A password manager may also help.
2. Enable PIN Protection and Multifactor Authentication
These two steps take just a few minutes to complete but they can be helpful in securing your Venmo account if your mobile device is lost or stolen. And if you don't have a password or lock for your phone, you may want to set that up as well.
3. Link Credit Cards, Not Debit Cards
Venmo allows you to link both credit and debit cards to your account to use as payment methods. In terms of security, you're better off using a credit card in place of debit, as credit cards have more legal protections governing fraud compared to debit cards.
Paying with a credit card incurs a 3% fee, plus a potential cash-advance fee from your issuer.
4. Only Deal With Trusted Payers and Payees
It should go without saying, but Venmo advises users to only send and receive money from friends and family they know and trust. If you're accepting payment or sending payment to someone you don't know, those transactions could be much riskier. According to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained and reviewed internal documents from Venmo’s parent company PayPal, Venmo reportedly lost $40 million in the first three months of 2018 due to fake payment transactions that were processed through the app. If you’re worried about fraud, you can cancel payments to new Venmo users who don’t yet have active accounts.
5. Use Push Notifications to Monitor Venmo Account Activity
Setting up alerts can help you keep tabs on your account and when money moves in or out. These are under “Settings” and then “Notifications.” Email notifications will let you know if a login was attempted, in addition to payments and charges, but there are also push and text notifications for payments received, payments sent, and more.
6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
If you're sending or receiving money through Venmo anywhere other than home, make sure you're using a secured Wi-Fi network to do so. Using public Wi-Fi that isn't password-protected could potentially expose your account details to hackers if they're able to tap into the network.
7. Don't Stay Logged In
It's not always easy to remember to log out of Venmo with every session (in the app go to “Settings” and then “Sign Out”), but logging out ends your session and can reduce the odds of someone being able to steal your information.
The Bottom Line on Venmo Security
Generally, Venmo is safe, but any time you're sending money electronically, you're taking a risk. Being aware of potential security threats and taking action to protect yourself can help reduce the odds of losing money through Venmo or another financial app.
Federal Trade Commission. "PayPal Settles FTC Charges that Venmo Failed to Disclose Information to Consumers About the Ability to Transfer Funds and Privacy Settings; Violated Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act," Accessed Nov. 25, 2019.
Federal Trade Commission. "Advanced Password Tips and Tricks," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Back to Basics: Multi-factor Authentication," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
Federal Trade Commission. "Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
Venmo. "Security," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
Wall Street Journal. "Venmo Caught Off Guard by Fraudsters," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
Venmo. "I Paid the Wrong Person," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.
Federal Trade Commission. "Protect Your Information When Using Public Wi-Fi," Accessed Nov. 26, 2019.