Top 14 Venmo Scams & How to Avoid Them
Venmo is a popular mobile payment service that functions as a digital wallet. Users can shop online, make peer-to-peer payments like splitting the dinner bill, and even open a small business account.
Unfortunately, with how widely-used the service is, Venmo fraud has also become pretty common. Whether you’ve received random Venmo requests or suspicious texts from Venmo’s customer support, you could be a target of one of these scams.
Below we’ll cover 15 of the most common Venmo scams, how to spot them, how to stay safe while using the service, and what to do if you’ve fallen for a Venmo scam.
Venmo scams—why you should care
You stand to lose a lot if you fall victim to a Venmo scam. In fact, according to the Better Business Bureau, the median reported loss for Venmo scams is $700, compared to only $90 for the more popular PayPal scams.
Possibly even worse than causing immediate monetary loss, many Venmo scams are designed to steal your personal data. This may include account credentials, bank details, and even your social security number, which could lead to serious, long-term consequences like identity theft.
All of this can be easily avoided, however, if you know what to look out for.
14 common Venmo scams to watch out for
Venmo text scams
The Venmo scam text is one of the most common types of Venmo scams. It covers a broad range of scams that rely on text messages in order to reach victims. Examples of this type of scam include the Venmo survey scam, the Venmo alert scam text, the fake deposit scam, and the unclaimed money scam.
While all Venmo text scams share the method of delivery, they might not have much else in common. With such a wide range of tactics, it might be easier to identify what isn’t a Venmo scam text rather than what is. Unless you have disabled text notifications, here’s what Venmo will text you about:
- Payment received
- Payment sent
- Charge request received
- Direct deposit received
- Friend requests
- Friend joined
You can be sure that any other type of communication, especially messages that ask for your personal information or direct you to another website to complete or confirm transactions, are scams. Knowing what texts to expect will definitely make it harder for scammers to trick you.
For even more control, you can set your preferences for what kinds of notifications Venmo can send you and where by visiting the notifications menu in the app settings.
Venmo giveaway scams
Also known as the Venmo gift scam or the Venmo winners scam, this scam capitalizes on people’s desire for “free” money. Whether you see Venmo giving away money on Instagram or other social media or receive messages claiming you’ve won money or other fake prizes, this is definitely a scam.
In most cases, you’ll have to follow a link to “sign in” to your Venmo account to claim your reward. In reality, these links will lead you to phishing websites that look like Venmo but are designed to steal your login credentials or other sensitive personal information such as your social security number.
If you didn’t enter any kind of contest, you know that this is a scam. If you aren’t so sure, you can always contact Venmo customer support to double-check. And if this congratulatory message arrived via email, make sure the domain is Venmo.com. In any case, unless Venmo asks you to do this inside the app itself, never give out any personal information!
Venmo survey scams
Similar to the giveaway scam, the Venmo survey scam also offers “free” money. This time in exchange for completing a simple survey. This could be offered by Venmo itself or by other companies that offer to pay the reward via Venmo.
While some companies might really offer incentives for completing a survey, in most cases this is already a red flag. If the promised reward is a large sum of money, you can confidently assume it is a scam. And even if your feedback was worth $100 to a business, they wouldn’t pay via Venmo as it goes against their user agreement.
Venmo fake purchase scams
One of the most common Venmo scams involves a fake purchase of some sort. This can be through Venmo or a fake Venmo app. Some tactics for this scam include:
- Once the scammer receives the goods, they request the transaction to be reversed.
- The scammer sends you screenshots of the transaction or emails to convince you that they have made a payment when, in fact, they haven’t.
- The scammer uses a stolen credit card or bank information. In most cases, you’ll be required to return these types of transactions.
- The scammer claims to have made a payment that will only reach you after you provide proof of shipment. Of course, the payment doesn’t exist. Moreover, Venmo doesn’t offer such a service.
The only foolproof way to avoid a fake Venmo payment scam is not to accept payments through Venmo. If you are selling something through Facebook Marketplace or a similar platform, it’s best to meet the buyer in person, in a public location, and take cash payment.
If you still want to sell your goods or services using Venmo, we recommend you sign up for a business profile so that you’re covered by their purchase protection program.
Venmo overpayment scams
This one is related to the fake purchase scam, but it goes one step further. Not only does the scammer not pay you for the goods, they also steal your money while they’re at it.
While transferring payment for your goods or service, the fraudster will “accidentally” send too much and ask you to refund the difference. However, the accidental transfer is fake, meaning that you’re actually paying them.
Another variation of this relies on a paper check. The premise is the same, in the paper check scam you’ll find the check won’t clear after you’ve refunded the difference.
Venmo repayment scams
You aren’t any safer if you’re the one making a purchase. As part of the prepayment scam, fraudsters will demand you transfer payment via Venmo before they provide what you paid for. Of course, as soon as they get your money, they’ll disappear, never to be heard from again.
Sounds too obvious to fall for, right? Well, oftentimes, these scammers will entice you with really hard-to-find items like sold-out concert tickets or limited edition releases. The promise of such a high reward can be surprisingly effective at making victims take risks.
To further reassure you, they may even send you fake screenshots of shipping information. However convincing it may seem, though, remember—if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
If this doesn’t scare you away from buying things with Venmo, at least use their purchase protection program. To qualify for this just tag a payment to a personal profile as a purchase.
Venmo accidental money transfer scams
Another old trick used by scammers is the “accidental” money transfer scam. To pull this off, the cybercriminals use stolen credit cards to transfer money to you and then reach out claiming it was a mistake. If you’re a good Samaritan, odds are you’ll be quick to send it back. Unfortunately, that’s how they get you!
Since the original transfer was made using a stolen card, you’ll have to pay the money back, meaning you’ll lose the full amount.
As tempting as it can be to help someone out, you should look out for yourself first. Hold on to the money and ask the person who sent it to contact their bank. They should be able to sort it out through the proper channels. You can also reach out to Venmo about the issue to try to cancel the payment. But don’t engage the sender any further. They will likely try to convince you with sob stories about why they need the money urgently.
Venmo romance scams
A romance scam is exactly what it sounds like. A scammer will try to build a romantic relationship with you online, with the intention of convincing you to send them money through Venmo. You might think you’d never be fooled by this sort of thing, but scammers often use fake identities and create compelling backstories to gain your trust.
If the person you’ve been chatting with starts asking you for money and refuses to meet you in person, that’s already a strong indication you’ve got a romance scam on your hands.
They’ll also use emotional manipulation tactics, such as love bombing, claiming to be in a financial crisis, or asking for small amounts of money that gradually increase over time. The scammer may even use meeting up in person as a way to get money out of you. Plane tickets and hotel reservations are both common excuses for requesting money.
To avoid falling for a romance scam, just keep these two most important rules:
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met in person.
- Don’t get too emotionally involved with someone unless you’ve at least had a video call with them.
Venmo friend impersonation scams
This one can be very tricky. If scammers have access to enough of your personal information, they can target you with highly personalized and convincing attacks like this impersonation scam.
Using stolen profile pictures and details, these scammers create convincing fake accounts of people you have paid in the past, then reach out to you with random and urgent requests for payment. The fraudster is usually pushy in these circumstances as they don’t want to give you enough time to investigate. However, if you take the time to double-check, it’s easy to discover the fraud.
To avoid these kinds of scams, be wary of any unexpected or otherwise suspicious requests. Trust your gut. If something feels off, there’s usually a good reason for it. However urgent the situation may seem, stop, check the public transaction history and network information, and even contact the person directly to verify their identity.
You should also visit your Venmo privacy settings and set your transaction to private. This will limit the information scammers can use against you in the future.
Impersonating Venmo scams
Not only can fraudsters impersonate your friends, family, and potential romantic partners, they often pose as Venmo representatives as well. This usually happens in one of two ways:
- They reach out to you by text or email regarding suspicious activity on your account or some other problem that you’ll want to resolve immediately. In order to “help,” they’ll ask for sensitive information such as your Social Security number or Venmo account details.
- They create fake Venmo customer support websites and phone numbers that may come up in online search results when you’re seeking help with a problem. If it’s a fake website, you’ll be asked to enter your Venmo login details, compromising your account. If it’s a phone number, they may ask for sensitive information such as your login details and SSN, or demand payment for the service.
The first thing you should always do if you want to avoid this scam is stick to the official Venmo website and app. Visit Venmo.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click “contact support.”
If you receive contact from a scammer claiming to be from Venmo, it can be a little trickier, but not impossible to detect. While Venmo may ask you for your SSN, they’ll only do so under specific circumstances and through the app itself under Settings > Identity Verification.
Here are the reasons why the real Venmo may ask for your SSN:
- You sent $300 or more within 7 days.
- You transferred $1,000 or more to your bank within 7 days.
- You made over 200 transactions in a year using a business account.
- You created a group account.
If “Venmo” asks you to provide your SSN for any other reason or anywhere other than the Venmo app, you can be sure it’s fraud.
Venmo employer Impersonation scams
With the current job market how it is, jobseekers are low-hanging fruit for scammers. For Venmo employer impersonation scams, fraudsters contact people with an enticing job offer. They may ask you to:
- Pay for onboarding
- Use your account to transfer funds
- Send money or buy products to get started
The trick to avoid falling for this type of scam is not to get too excited. If the job offer seems too good to be true, that’s your first red flag.
We also recommend you avoid paying for products or onboarding unless you’re sure beyond doubt that the company is legitimate. And finally, before you sign any contract or make an investment, do some research to find out exactly who you’re dealing with.
Venmo investment scams
Speaking of investments, this is another common Venmo scam. What better place to run finance-related fraud than on a payment app like Venmo? Investment scams are pretty straightforward and operate how you might expect.
While the details may vary, the premise is usually the same. Someone requests a comparatively small amount of money with the promise of large returns. This could involve gift cards, bringing in more investors as part of a pyramid scheme, or simple “money flipping” where you pay $100 and miraculously get back $1,000.
You can avoid these types of tricks by immediately steering clear of get-rich-quick schemes, promises of “guaranteed” returns, and pyramid schemes.
Venmo lease deposit scams
Alongside job-seekers, people who are house-hunting are also common targets of Venmo fraud. Also known as rental scams, this type of fraud involves “landlords” asking for a lease deposit before signing the paperwork or even viewing the property.
If you are involved in a rental scam, you’ll either end up with no house to rent at all, or the scammer will pull a bait-and-switch, leaving you with a housing situation you didn’t sign up for.
The best way to keep yourself out of either situation is to never make a payment before signing the proper paperwork and getting the keys, and never signing the paperwork before you have gotten a proper tour of the property.
In-person Venmo scams
This last Venmo scam is different from all the rest on our list because it doesn’t happen online. Has a stranger ever asked to use your phone in public? Well, scammers might prey on your kind heart by claiming they’ve lost their phone and need to call someone, send a text, or look up directions.
Instead of using your phone for one of these innocent reasons, however, scammers can open your Venmo account and transfer funds to themselves. One woman almost lost 4K like this to a 12-year-old boy who claimed to be lost.
So what should you do in situations like this? First, secure your Venmo account with a PIN or touch ID. Then, if you ever get approached by someone asking to use your phone, even if it’s a lost child, offer to send a text or make a call on their behalf. You could also escort a child to a nearby shop or place of business so they can use the phone for help or to call the police.
How to stay safe on Venmo
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of what a typical Venmo scam looks like, what else can you do to protect yourself while using Venmo? The trick is a combination of knowing what to do when you see a possible scam and taking steps to prevent being targeted by scammers in the first place.
Here are some of our favorite tips to stay safe on Venmo:
Any time you receive unsolicited text messages or emails outside the Venmo apps, be very skeptical. In fact, this doesn’t apply only to Venmo but should be practiced in general. Never follow links!
Instead, if you think there may be an issue, log into your Venmo account to check directly, or contact Venmo customer support.
Keep your personal information to yourself
Never share your personal information outside the Venmo app. There are cases where Venmo may ask for information such as your Social Security number, but this will happen within the app, under settings > identity verification. If you ever feel unsure about a request, contact their customer support. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Stick to people you know
Venmo was designed to be used with people that you know. It’s best for your safety if you stick to using it that way. And even if you receive an unusual request from someone you know and trust, you should still double-check their profile or contact them directly to make sure it’s not an imposter.
Verify accounts before making or receiving transactions
If you do decide to use Venmo with a stranger, take precautions by verifying their account. If it is a seller, make sure that it’s an approved Business account. If it is, it will say “Eligible items covered by Purchase Protection” below the pay button.
Make it harder for scammers to find you
Many scammers get your contact details and other personal information from people search sites. This makes you easier to access and target with personalized attacks. We recommend you opt-out from any people search sites that sell or publish your personal information online.
To find which websites have your personal data, just do a quick online search. Look up your name on any popular search engine to see which people search site listings come up. Then start going through the results to take them down.
Check out our opt-out guides to help you navigate their individual opt-out processes or use our personal information removal service to keep your data off the web automatically.
Check out similar scam guides:
- Geek Squad Scams
- Telegram Scams
- Cash App Scams
- Wells Fargo Text Scams
- Amazon Scams
- Snapchat Scams
- ATT Text Scam
What to do if you’re involved in a Venmo scam
If you’ve already fallen victim to one of the scams we described above, or any other Venmo scam, there’s still hope! There are steps you can take to minimize the damage and possibly even recover your losses. Just collect any evidence you can, don’t engage in any further contact with the scammer, and follow these steps:
- Change your passwords. The first thing you’ll want to do is secure your Venmo, bank, and any other online accounts that may be compromised. Choose a strong, unique password for each. We recommend using a password manager such as NordPass to help you remember and securely store all of your passwords.
- Report the scam to Venmo. While in many cases you may not be able to get your money back, you can still raise a scam dispute with Venmo, especially if you are covered by the Venmo Purchase Protection plan. Just visit the official Venmo website and contact the support team through their online contact form.
- Report the scam to your local police. Take any evidence you may have collected, such as screenshots of interactions with the scammer, and file an official police report. Make sure to call a non-emergency number or visit your local precinct in person.
- Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Along with the police, you should submit your evidence with your FTC report. They can use this evidence to pursue criminal charges against the scammers involved.
- File a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. If the scam you encountered involves the name of a registered company, you can also file a complaint with the BBB. While this won’t help you get your money back it may prevent others from falling for the same scam.
- Start an identity theft recovery process. If you believe the scammers may have stolen your identity, visit the FTC’s identity theft portal to start a recovery plan right away. The process may take some time, but you can reverse identity theft.
Whatever you end up deciding, remain vigilant and be mindful about what personal information you share online. Check out similar scam/spam guides:
- UPS Text Scam
- Geek Squad Scams
- Telegram Scams
- Cash App Scams
- Wells Fargo Text Scams
- Amazon Scams
- Got a call from your own number? Scam alert
- How to Make Your Phone Number Unsearchable
- Venmo Scams
- PayPal Scams
Venmo scams FAQ
Is Venmo safe to use?
Venmo is a legitimate and safe payment service, however, you should exercise caution when making transactions with strangers. There is no chargeback system to easily reverse transactions in the event of a dispute, which makes it easier for scammers to take your money.
Venmo does offer a Purchase Protection Program, however, the program is limited to:
- Purchases made with a Venmo Debit Card
- Purchases made from authorized merchants
- Payments made using the Pay and Request feature either to business profiles or for goods and services
Is Venmo safe to use with strangers?
Venmo is designed to be used with people you know. Since there is no buyer protection in place, sending transactions to strangers is risky. Unless it’s to an authorized merchant, we recommend you refrain from making payments to strangers through Venmo.
Is it safe to give someone your Venmo username?
Your Venmo username isn’t highly sensitive information so it’s generally safe to give out. However, you should keep in mind that scammers rely on personal information, including usernames. Combined with other pieces of information, they can use it against you or someone you know.
Is the Venmo confirm identity email a scam?
Venmo may request that you complete identity verification but will ask you to do so through the app itself. You should never follow any links or send information via email or text. Log into your app and verify your identity under settings > identity verification.
Is Venmo safe for sellers?
Sellers that have a business profile or identify sellers of goods or services may be covered by the Venmo Purchase Protection Program. This applies to claims from buyers of unauthorized transactions or unreceived goods. You can check if a payment is eligible under the transaction details page in the app.
Is Venmo safe for buyers?
Venmo is safe to use from authorized merchants on Venmo. For eligible transactions, you may be covered by the Venmo Protection Program in case you haven’t received what you paid for, an item is damaged, or you’ve been sent the wrong item.
Will Venmo refund money in case of a scam?
Venmo does not guarantee a refund in the case of a scam. However, if you qualify for the Venmo Payment Protection Program, you can submit a claim requesting your money back.