Venmo is a convenient way to send money to friends and family, but scammers are catching on. Fraudsters are setting up fake accounts and running all kinds of schemes to steal money. If you ever encounter a scam on Venmo, it‘s crucial that you know how to properly identify and report it. Don‘t worry, I‘ll walk you through the process step-by-step.
Let‘s first look at the tell-tale signs of common Venmo scams so you can recognize them more easily. Then I‘ll provide expert advice on exactly how to report scammers and fraud attempts to Venmo. I‘ll also share important tips to help you avoid getting scammed in the first place. Read on to learn how to keep your Venmo account secure.
Watch Out for These Common Venmo Scams
According to Venmo’s safety tips, scams are on the rise on the popular peer-to-peer payment app. A 2021 BBB study found that over 50% of users under 35 have experienced fraud on money transfer apps like Venmo. Here are the top schemes to watch out for:
Fake Payment Scams
This is one of the most frequent scams on Venmo. Here’s how it goes:
You‘re selling an item online, and a buyer expresses interest. They say they‘ll pay you for the item through Venmo. You receive a notification that a payment has been sent to you. Thrilled, you ship off the item to the buyer right away.
But days later, you check your Venmo balance and realize no money was actually transferred. The "buyer" disappears with your item, leaving you scammed out of both the payment and the product.
According to the FTC, fake payment scams made up 37% of all reported frauds on money transfer apps in 2021.
How to spot it: Be wary of buyers who push to pay through Venmo, especially for online sales. Double check your Venmo balance to confirm the money is there before shipping items. Beware offers that seem too good to be true.
Watch out for messages on Venmo that appear to be from friends or family members asking for money. Scammers create accounts impersonating someone you know and try to fool you into sending money.
The messages may claim your loved one is stranded somewhere and needs emergency cash for a rental car or hotel room. Or the fake account may pretend to accidentally send you money and ask you to send it back.
According to the FTC, imposter scams quadrupled from 2017 to 2021. Don‘t let scammers fool you – always double check before sending money on Venmo to someone you know.
How to spot it: Verify requests through another form of communication before sending money. Call or text the real person to confirm it‘s really them before taking action on Venmo.
Automatic Payment Scams
Venmo’s automatic payment request feature allows legit businesses to request money from you for subscriptions, bills, or other services. However, scammers are now abusing this tool to trick people into payments.
You may suddenly receive an automatic payment request disguised as a bill or service charge, hoping you click to pay it without carefully checking first. If you’re not paying attention, you could authorize the payment and have money instantly withdrawn from your Venmo balance or connected bank account.
How to spot it: Inspect any automatic payment requests closely before approving them. Don‘t just click and pay. Verify the request is for a product or subscription you actually signed up for and recognize. Contact the business directly if you’re unsure.
Here’s how this scheme typically plays out:
You agree to sell an item to a buyer for $100. But after you make the deal, the buyer sends you a Venmo payment for $500, claiming they made a mistake. They ask you to refund $400 to return the overpayment.
If you fall for this scam and refund the money, you end up $400 poorer and without the item you sold. All while the “buyer” pockets the $400 from your real Venmo balance.
Consumer protection agencies have issued warnings about Venmo overpayment scams, as they frequently target sellers. Don‘t let desire for a big sale cloud your judgment.
How to spot it: Never refund claimed overpayments on Venmo. If a buyer overpays by mistake, have them dispute the entire transaction through Venmo support so it gets reversed officially.
Money Flipping Scams
A stranger may message you promising unbelievable investment returns if you send them money through Venmo. They claim they can take a small amount of money you invest and “flip it” into a much larger amount.
For example, they may say they‘ll turn $200 into $2000. But as soon as you send the money, you‘ll find out you‘ve been scammed. The scammer pockets your funds and disappears, with zero intention of investing it for you.
According to the FTC, investment scams rose nearly 60% from 2020 to 2021 as more scammers targeted people online. Don‘t let the lure of easy money cloud your judgment.
How to spot it: It‘s nearly impossible to safely grow money that quickly. Legit investing takes research and has risks. Cut off contact if someone promises unrealistic returns in exchange for money.
Fraudulent Account Closure Scams
You may receive an official-looking email claiming your Venmo account needs to be temporarily locked for security reasons. The email says you must send a payment to an "account verification" Venmo account to reactivate your access.
If you pay up, you‘ll find out it‘s a scam after all. Not only is your money gone, but now scammers have your Venmo login details to steal more funds or commit identity theft.
Venmo will never message you to request payments to regain account access. Remember that vital tip if you receive a message about your account being locked!
How to spot it: Ignore emails about accounts being locked, as Venmo will never contact you this way for payments. Log in directly through the app or website if you have issues to speak with real Venmo support.
Step-by-Step Guide to Reporting Venmo Scams
If you encounter any shady behavior on Venmo, it‘s critical to report it right away so the scammer can‘t victimize others. Here is the proper step-by-step process:
1. Document the scam details
To make a report, Venmo will need evidence of the scam. Carefully document everything about the incident:
Take screenshots of any scam messages, payments, user profiles, emails, texts, etc. This creates a record of what happened to support your claim.
Note the scammer‘s Venmo username if applicable so Venmo can shut down their account.
Record dates/times of scam messages and transactions to establish a timeline.
Save email headers from any phishing emails to help identify the source.
The more thorough details you can provide, the stronger your scam report will be.
2. Contact Venmo Support
Next, get in touch with Venmo’s customer support right away to report the scam attempt:
Venmo app: Open your Venmo app and tap “Get help”. Choose the option to message support. Explain the scam situation and attach your documentation.
Website: Navigate to Venmo‘s official contact form at https://help.venmo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new. Fill out the scam report form and upload your evidence.
Phone: You can also call 1-855-812-4430 to speak with a Venmo representative if needed. However, email or in-app support is best to supply visual scam evidence.
Clearly explain the scam details, supply all screenshots, and provide the scammer’s username in your report if you have it. Timeliness is important, so strive to contact Venmo support as soon as possible after the incident. The faster they are alerted, the quicker they can act to get fraudulent accounts shut down.
3. Call your bank
If the scam involved your bank account linked to Venmo, call your bank right away too. Alert them to the fraudulent activity. They can monitor your accounts more closely for further suspicious charges.
Ask if they recommend closing your current accounts and opening new ones to protect your security and prevent additional misuse. Banks can also assist if you need to dispute any unauthorized withdrawals from the scam.
4. Change your Venmo password
Even if the scam didn‘t result in money losses, it‘s wise to change your Venmo password immediately.
Choose a new, completely random password that only you know. Avoid reusing passwords across accounts. Enable two-factor authentication through Venmo’s app for added protection.
Updating your password secures your account from further misuse in case the scammer gained login information. It‘s a quick extra step worth taking after encountering a scam.
5. File an FTC complaint
For substantial Venmo scams, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to join their fraud database:
- Navigate to ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- Click the Report Fraud button
- Choose the option for "Other" frauds
- Select “Money Transfer Scams” as the complaint subtype
- Fill out scam details and submit
The information gets added to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network that law enforcement accesses to track frauds. This helps authorities identify larger scam trends and potentially prosecute scammers.
What If You Lost Money to a Venmo Scam?
If a scam has already resulted in unauthorized withdrawals from your Venmo account, here are important steps to take right away:
Contact Venmo immediately – Even if they can‘t recover the funds, prompt reporting gives you the best shot and helps Venmo strengthen security.
Dispute unauthorized charges – If connected banks/cards were impacted, request a chargeback for any fraudulent transactions. Provide details on why the charges are unauthorized.
Monitor your accounts closely – Watch for further suspicious charges and work with banks to prevent additional damages through new account numbers, etc.
Ignore recovery scammers – You‘ll likely be contacted by people falsely claiming they can retrieve your lost money for an upfront fee. These "recovery scammers" are trying to scam you again! Never pay them.
Don‘t send more money – Cut off all contact with the scammer. Don‘t be tricked into sending more funds in hopes of recovering your initial losses.
Expert Tips to Avoid Venmo Scams
Here are some key strategies to help keep your Venmo account secure:
Only use Venmo with trusted friends/family – Don‘t transact with strangers online or through classified listings. Verify identities outside of Venmo first.
Inspect payment requests carefully – Double check that requests match expected transactions before approving them.
Don‘t purchase items through Venmo – It‘s intended for peer-to-peer payments. Use more secure methods like credit cards to buy goods online.
Watch for red flags – Don‘t trust unrealistic promises of free money or huge returns on investments. Cut off contact with any suspicious behaviors.
Never share Venmo login details – Legitimate Venmo support will never ask for your password or username.
Link a credit card – For account withdrawals, use a credit card over a bank account. Credit cards have stronger fraud protections to limit risk.
Set up alerts – Get notifications for payments and account changes so you can stay on top of activity.
Trust your instincts – Walk away if anything seems questionable or too good to be true. It‘s not worth the risk.
Spreading awareness about common Venmo scams and how to properly report them can help keep the entire Venmo community more secure. I hope these tips give you the confidence to transact safely on Venmo and know what to do if you ever cross paths with a scammer. Stay vigilant, and don‘t hesitate to contact Venmo if you encounter suspicious activity. By working together, we can reduce frauds and keep money where it belongs – in your account!
Let me know if you have any other questions! https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/ftc-warns-venmo-scams-increasing.html  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2022/03/top-money-mule-scams-2021  https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/03/impostor-scams-quadruple-money-lost-2017-2021  https://www.usa.gov/venmo-scams#item-37141  https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/02/reports-show-scammers-cashing-big-investment