Venmo scams becoming more prevalent. How to avoid them

John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

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John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

Venmo is a popular digital wallet app, which allows you to send and receive money from family and friends. It lets you send money instantly from a stored credit card, bank account or pre-loaded Venmo card to anyone with an account. Therefore, Venmo has a lot of your personal information you want to keep safe. While it’s easy to use to pay friends and family for items, it’s important to be aware of the dangers.

While Venmo is mostly safe, it’s important not to participate in high-risk activity with your finances.

Even Venmo is aware of these scams and puts a warning on its website that Venmo is designed for payments between people who trust each other because there is no protection for the buyer or seller. Therefore, it’s important you don’t accept or give money to strangers who could potentially be scammers. For example, scammers connect stolen credit cards to Venmo and use them to transfer money to unsuspecting users. If you send the money back to the scammer, he or she will delete the stolen credit card from the account and add his or her own card in its place. Others send screenshots of fake emails that make it seem like they’ve paid you through the app, when they actually haven’t.

Better Business Bureau offers these tips for avoiding Venmo scams:

  • Send or give money only to people you know and trust.
  • Don’t use Venmo to join a pyramid or any other get-rich-quick scheme.
  • Don’t provide any services or goods you’re selling to anyone before receiving compensation.
  • Don’t let anyone use your phone, so they cannot open your Venmo account and send money to themselves.
  • Ask the sender to cancel the transaction if you’re sent money by mistake. The sender can cancel the transaction. If the person refuses, it’s probably a scam.
  • Understand if someone tells you that he or she has sent you a payment, but it will only arrive when you ship the item, it’s a scam. Venmo doesn’t offer this service.
  • Be wary if someone pays you with a stolen credit card. The money could be removed from your account when the actual card owner reports the unauthorized use.
  • Don’t send money to anyone before checking with him or her first. Scammers may steal a profile picture to impersonate your friends and ask for money.
  • Use security measures, such as multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN or using fingerprint recognition.
  • Link your Venmo account to a credit card instead of your bank account. This will help protect you so you can dispute any fraudulent charges. You may also consider leaving a small amount in your Venmo account and spend from your Venmo balance.
  • Report scams to Venmo so it can freeze the suspicious account. However, this generally doesn’t help the seller get back money. It only stops the buyer from doing more transactions and scamming more people.

For more information about scams, visit BBB.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. You can also report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker.