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Is Venmo safe? The low-down on privacy and security for Venmo users

Venmo is generally safe to use, but double-check your privacy and security settings first.
By
October 27, 2022
Venmo app on phone 4

Venmo is one of the most popular money transfer apps in the United States, alongside PayPal and Cash App. In many cases, it’s easier and faster to pay your friends and family through Venmo instead of a traditional wire transfer. But are you sacrificing your financial security and privacy for this convenience or is Venmo truly safe to use? Let’s break it down.

QUICK ANSWER

Venmo is a PayPal-backed company that is safe to use for sending and receiving money. However, you shouldn’t store large amounts of funds in the in-app wallet or treat it as an alternative to your bank account. Venmo isn’t FDIC-insured, so if the company goes under, the government won’t step in to return your money.

JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How does Venmo protect my data when I send and receive money?

Venmo app on phone 1

Let’s start with Venmo’s privacy policy, which states that you can control who can see your transaction history. The platform gives you three choices: public, friends only, and private. These are fairly self-explanatory choices; if you want to keep your transactions a secret, make sure it’s set to Private. If you set it to Public instead, your transactions (along with the payment note) may be visible to your friends and other Venmo users.

To change your default privacy setting on Venmo, follow these steps:

  • Open the Venmo app and tap on the Me icon, you can find it near the bottom-right of your screen.
  • Enter Settings by tapping on the gear icon, then tap Privacy.
  • Under the Default Privacy sub-menu, select your preferred setting.

When you send someone money on Venmo, the recipient can only see the following information: the transaction amount, payment note, sender’s name, and timestamp. Venmo doesn’t reveal which payment method you used – so you can safely link your debit/credit card or bank account for use on the platform.

You may also want to hide your contact list on Venmo as it can easily give away the names of your friends and family members. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when a journalist unearthed US President Joe Biden’s Venmo account and contact list in under 10 minutes. You can change the privacy of your contact list under Settings > Privacy in the Venmo app.

Venmo can access your transaction history for marketing and legal compliance, even if you set your privacy to private.

Keep in mind that even if you set all of your privacy settings to private, your transactions are never truly anonymous on the platform. Venmo and its employees can still retrieve your transaction history for marketing and affiliate purposes. Additionally, the company will comply with American court orders and respond to legal investigations, so don’t assume your transactions are as untraceable as cash.

Can Venmo be hacked? Has it ever been hacked?

Venmo app on phone 3

The Venmo platform as a whole hasn’t suffered a security breach or hack yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe either. Individual accounts can still get hacked if you’re not careful. To reduce this risk, set a strong password and enable a PIN or biometric lock on your smartphone.

If you typically use the same password across multiple websites and apps, a single security breach could compromise your credentials and give hackers access to your entire Venmo account. To safeguard yourself from this risk, you should always set unique (preferably randomized) passwords for every account. If you don’t already use one, consider a password manager like Bitwarden or Lastpass with a strong master password.

See also: The best password manager apps for Android

Beyond account security, you should also avoid storing money in your Venmo wallet. Unlike your checking or saving account, your Venmo wallet isn’t linked to a financial institution or bank. This means that the platform isn’t FDIC-insured. If Venmo or its parent company PayPal were to go bankrupt, the government won’t intervene to return your in-app funds.

See also: What’s the difference between Venmo and PayPal?

The same applies to cryptocurrency balances on Venmo. While you can buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies, you cannot transfer them to a private wallet or send them to someone else. Once again, you’re trusting the company to safeguard your money. If Venmo ever suffers a security breach, it’s very likely that you won’t be compensated for any lost funds. To that end, you should probably buy cryptocurrency elsewhere and transfer your holdings to a private wallet.

Should I trust Venmo?

Money Stock Photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Venmo was purpose-built for sending and receiving money from people you know so it probably isn’t the best idea to send money to strangers. If you want to use Venmo to pay for goods and services, make sure to tag your payment as a purchase. Doing so will make you eligible for Venmo’s purchase protection, which can come in handy in case you need to dispute the transaction. The platform takes a cut from the seller for such transactions, so you don’t have to worry about paying anything extra.

Venmo offers purchase protection, but it's best used for payments to people you know and trust.

If you’re mindful of the potential risks described above, Venmo is safe for the vast majority of use cases. As long as you use the platform exclusively for peer-to-peer transactions between your friends and family and don’t treat it like an alternative to your bank account, you shouldn’t run into any problems. Your data is also encrypted, so as long as you set your privacy settings correctly, nobody should be able to see your transaction history.


FAQs

Venmo is a PayPal-backed payment platform that encrypts your personal data and has a good security track record. However, you shouldn’t store large amounts of money in the app’s wallet as it isn’t insured like your bank account.

Venmo is meant to be used for sending and receiving money from friends and family. If you want to use it for buying and selling goods or services, remember to set the purchase tag so you’re covered by Venmo’s purchase protection.