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Is Venmo Safe?

This Is the Dumbest Thing You Can Do on Venmo

Venmo is so easy, it seems too good to be true, right? As convenient as the money-sharing app is, it's also not necessarily the safest way to pay someone. The app, owned by PayPal, makes sending and receiving money quick and painless, but over and over, we keep hearing about people being scammed or people losing money, so we wondered if the app was actually safe at all. In short, if you're aware of the following four big issues with Venmo, you can definitely use it and be assured that you won't have any problems.

1. Your transactions default to being public.

In case you didn't notice, the default setting is for your transactions to show up publicly in Venmo. It won't necessarily show how much money was exchanged, but it will say your name, the name of the person you exchanged money with, and the note that was included. This is problematic for two reasons. First of all, that means everyone can see if your friend put a note on the money she sent you that is maybe a little racy or inappropriate. Secondly, this makes it easier for a hacker to imitate your account by copying your name and picture and requesting money from your friends, as reported in a paper published by MIT students in 2014. However, you can change this privacy level in your settings. You can switch it over to make it so that you are the only one who sees your transactions and make it so your friends can't share your transactions.

2. You might pay more than you bargained for.

If you're using your credit card to send a payment, you'll be paying an additional 3 percent fee on top. You can avoid that fee if you use your Venmo balance, debit card, or bank account for payment.

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3. It's dangerously easy to set up with all your sensitive information.

If you're like me, you may have set up your Venmo account and connected it to your bank account without thinking twice. It's pretty much what the app asks you to do, and it makes it super easy to pay and withdraw money. But that also means all your banking information is stored in this little app, which is maybe not the greatest idea on a platform that is seemingly so public. Venmo reached out to me to assure me that it will not share your information publicly, but in a digital age, it's good to be extra careful with where you're storing your info.

4. The money isn't immediately transferred.

While it feels like the money lands in your Venmo account immediately after your friend sends it, it actually doesn't come through until the next business day. This may not be a big deal if you're exchanging money with friends or family, but you can easily be scammed by a stranger this way. This is why you should really avoid using Venmo with anyone you don't trust or know personally and why doing so is the dumbest thing you can do on Venmo. Say you sell something to a stranger and they Venmo you the money, it looks like it came through to you right away, yes? According to Time Money, that's not the case. The money "leaves" the sender's account immediately and you get a notification that you have the money. They then receive whatever you sold them and leave. On the off chance that the stranger used a fraudulent account or didn't actually have the money to pay you, once you attempt to transfer the money from your Venmo to your bank, you'll be on the hook for that amount.

While it's been noted in other places that users can cancel a Venmo payment from going through, according to Venmo's help center, that is not true. The root of the problem is using Venmo with people you don't trust, which is something Venmo strongly advises against.

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