Have you ever been on the receiving end of a scam or heard of someone whose bank account was emptied by fraudsters?
Unfortunately, these examples are becoming increasingly common. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) shared that they receive about 1,000 scam complaints daily from cash app users. As the number of cash app users increased over the last few years, so did the number of fraudsters on payment apps like Venmo and PayPal. As a result, even the most alert people have found themselves prey to smooth-talking fraudsters.
This article highlights common themes of cash app scams and explains how to protect your financial and personal information from scammers online. Stay tuned to learn more.
Tips to avoid Venmo and Cash App scams
With the number of scams rising, it’s important to be more aware and cautious. So, what can you do to protect yourself from being scammed?
Here are four essential safety tips to avoid some common Venmo scams:
- Never share private details like your Social Security number, bank account information, or debit card or credit card number with anyone online — even if they claim to be from the Venmo customer service team. Attackers can use the stolen credit card information to make unwanted transactions from your account.
- Do not send money to strangers online, no matter what they tell you. And never do business with strangers through the Venmo app.
- Never click on links in emails or texts supposedly sent by Venmo. Venmo mail is always sent via their official mail ID from their website: venmo.com. In addition, Venmo will never address you as “Dear User” or “Dear Venmo User” — they will always address you by your full name or business name.
- Turn the private setting on Venmo on so strangers can’t view your Venmo transaction history.
Let’s discuss some scam tactics commonly used on money transfer apps like Venmo and how you can quickly recognize and sidestep them.
The most common Venmo and Cash App scams
Spoofing and phishing scams are practices that trick you into revealing sensitive financial or online information, leading you to lose money and face risk identity theft.
Let’s talk about a few common scam tactic examples, so you know the red flags to look out for when using cash apps like Venmo.
Fake reward or cash prize
In this type of scam, a scammer will send you a text message, a notification, or an email with a link telling you that you won a cash prize or trending concert tickets on Venmo. The link generally leads to a page that asks you to sign in or provide information about your Venmo account. For example, the text could say something like, “As a long-time user of Venmo, you have received a $20 gift card from Venmo. Sign in to redeem.” Filling in these details can lead to your Venmo account being hacked.
Prevent being scammed this way by never sharing your Venmo login information with any person or third-party website.
A scammer may try to sign in to your Venmo account, requiring them to enter a code sent to your mobile number. They will call you, pretend to be from the Venmo tech support or customer service team, and produce any plausible reason they need you so you’ll share the code you received.
For example, this phone call may sound like, “Hello, we have noticed some unauthorized transactions on your Venmo account. This can lead to your account being blocked. To authorize the transactions, we need to confirm that you are the real owner of this account. For authentication purposes, we sent a code to your phone. Could you share that code with me, please?”
When in the middle of a busy work day, this call might not seem like a big deal and you may share the code without suspecting the caller of smishing. However, this code might be part of multi-factor authentication on Venmo and will give the scammer access to your account.
This can also look a little different. For example, someone who claims to be a Venmo agent might ask you to transfer a sum of money into another account to “verify” your account.
To avoid being scammed this way, keep in mind that a Venmo agent will never ask for a private code or try to gain access to your account. In addition, Venmo will never ask you to install a third-party app, redirect you to a different sign-in page, or ask you to send money to “verify” an account.
As a rule of thumb, never share your Venmo verification code with anyone, no matter who they claim to be.
Offers to make fast cash
This scam has a few names, including pyramid scheme, money circle, or cash wheel. Here, a scammer will persuade you to send them a small amount of money to earn back a larger sum within a short period. This is an easy scam to identify because you have no guarantee that the person will pay you back. However, scammers can be extremely convincing, and you may fall for their words.
To avoid this mistake on the cash transfer app, don’t ever send money to strangers on Venmo. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
Someone posing as one of your friends
In such a scam, a scammer will attempt to impersonate someone you know. For example, a scammer is impersonating your friend “X.” They use any publicly available information about “X” and create an account using “X’s” name and picture. If “X’s” Venmo account isn’t private, the scammer can access “X’s” transaction history. And, if “X” has transacted with you in the past, the scammer posing as “X” will connect with you and request money. Usually, these requests suggest an urgent need for money. Since you know “X,” you might consider lending them the amount.
Avoid this scam by being wary of any unusual money requests from someone who looks like a friend. Before accepting the payment request, double-check that the person requesting the money is your friend or a family member. Reach out to your friend outside of Venmo through their phone or a credible social media account to verify that it’s not a fake profile asking you for money. In addition, you should always keep your Venmo friend list and transaction history private to avoid giving scammers access to your data.
Scams when buying or selling things online
If you’re selling goods online, a buyer might try to obtain your goods without actually paying for your product. So, they may send you a screenshot of a fake payment to prove they have paid when you haven’t received any money.
Sometimes, a scammer will send a screenshot showing that they accidentally paid you an extra sum of money, and may ask you to pay the money back. However, their payment was fake, and you will end up paying money from your pocket.
Another example involves a seller who sends a message that seems like it’s from Venmo. The message might say that the buyer made a payment, but it will only be fully processed once goods are shipped. Again, this is a red flag to watch out for because Venmo doesn’t offer this feature.
If you’re a buyer online, your seller may convince you to Venmo them the entire payment, and then they may refuse to ship the purchased goods to you.
To be protected from such scams, avoid selling and buying items using Venmo. If you’re buying from strangers on Venmo, ensure it is a Venmo-approved business account so you have purchase protection for any eligible items covered under the user agreement.
As a rule, it’s best not to exchange Venmo payments with strangers. Consider blocking the user if you receive an unsolicited payment or a payment request from a stranger on Venmo.
How to protect yourself from Venmo and Cash App scams
As transactions become increasingly digital, it’s important to educate yourself about the best practices to protect your financial information online.
Here are some general tips to follow:
- Never reveal personal codes, financial details, bank information, private one-time codes, or passwords to anyone online.
- Remember that no one from the Venmo team will ever ask for one-time passwords, just like no one from your bank would ask you to reveal private details or codes.
- Be aware of current scams so you can recognize one when you see it.
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