VENMO: Tens of millions of people use mobile payment apps such as PayPal’s Venmo and Square’s Cash App to transfer money from their bank accounts to friends, family, and merchants. While these platforms provide convenience, they also pose security risks, thanks to their combination of finance and social media. Users can also be targets for hackers looking to steal money from their accounts.
But don’t worry; there are numerous ways to secure your Venmo and Cash App accounts with a few simple settings changes and privacy best practices. Here’s what you should do.
Basic tips for protecting your privacy on Venmo and Cash App
To protect account information, both payment apps employ encryption and fraud detection technology. However, you should take a few extra precautions to ensure your safety.
Use a password that was generated at random.
We know you’re sick of hearing how important it is to use unique, difficult-to-guess passwords for each account. But it’s still true, especially when it comes to money. Using a password manager is one simple way to accomplish this.
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LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden, among our favourites, provide a free tier of service that includes all of the essentials: password storage, strong and secure password generation, and autofill capabilities.
Beware of common scams.
Criminals target Venmo and PayPal users in a variety of creative ways. There have been reports of hackers impersonating Venmo and Cash App support staff, calling or texting users, “assisting” them in changing their passwords and then draining their accounts.
Prospective renters have been asked for a deposit by scammer landlords before being given apartment tours. Scammer pet owners have used a similar bait-and-switch tactic, offering purebred animals at ridiculously low prices, demanding advance payment, and then disappearing. These kinds of disasters abound on Cash App’s support page.
According to the app’s security support page, “nobody at Venmo will ever contact you to request a password or verification code for your account.” The same can be said for Cash App.
If you become a victim of a scam on either app, you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Cash App’s website for resources.
Avoid using banking apps on public Wi-Fi (or invest in a VPN)
Logging into a financial app on any public Wi-Fi network, such as one at a hotel, airport, or coffee shop, can allow malicious actors to gain access to your account. It’s happened before on cash-sharing apps.
If you absolutely must access your account and are unable to connect to a reliable network, we recommend using a VPN to conceal your activity from prying eyes.
Sending money to people you don’t know is not a good idea.
Avoid using Venmo and Cash App to send money to people you don’t know and trust. Neither app is currently optimized for buying or selling goods or services, though Venmo is developing a business profiles feature to improve the security of retail and commercial sales. If you’re a vendor thinking about using Cash App, you should first set up a business account with Square Payments.
Make sure that all of your Venmo transactions are private.
This is an absolute necessity. When you create a Venmo account, all of your transactions are made public by default, which means that anyone with access to the internet can see exactly what you’re sending and to whom. This public record has been used to discover everything from who won The Bachelor before the season aired to a recent alleged political sex trafficking investigation.
It is extremely simple to make all of your transactions private by default. To access the menu, open the Venmo app and tap the three lines in the upper right corner. Tap Settings > Privacy, then tap Private under Default Privacy Setting. All future payments will now be visible only to you and the recipient.
You can also modify the privacy settings for previous transactions. Tap Past Transactions on the same Privacy page, under More. You’ll see the option to Change to Friends or Change to Private All.
One advantage of Cash App is that all transactions are private by default.
Enable two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication is a reliable method of adding an extra layer of security to your account. When you sign in on a new device, Venmo will send a code to the phone number associated with your account, which you must enter correctly in order to access your account.
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Open the Venmo app and tap the three lines in the upper right corner for the menu to enable two-factor authentication. Tap Settings, then Security, and then Remembered Devices. You’ll see the device you’re currently using, as well as possibly others you’ve used previously. You won’t need to enter a verification code when you sign in with any of the devices on your list. Swipe left and tap Delete to remove any of the devices. You can remove all devices from this list if you want to enable two-factor authentication on all of them.
When you sign into your Cash App account on a new device, you’ll be sent a one-time login code. For added security, the app recommends adding two-factor authentication to your email account associated with the app.
Set up a Face ID or a pin code.
Enabling a Face ID or a pin increases the security of your account when you open the app or make a transaction.
You can configure Venmo so that every time you open the app, you must enter either your Face ID (or fingerprint scan, depending on the device) or your pin. To begin, tap the three lines in the upper right corner to access the menu. Tap Settings, then Face ID & PIN under Security. Enable Face ID & PIN by tapping the toggle. The app will prompt you to enter a new passcode, and if you’re using an iPhone, a pop-up notification will appear asking if you want Venmo to use Face ID to unlock your account. Select OK. If you’re using an Android phone, you might see PIN code & biometric unlock.
You can set up a security lock on Cash App that requires your Face ID, Touch ID, or a pin to transfer funds. In the top right corner, tap the profile icon. Toggle the Security Lock switch under Privacy & Security. The app will ask you to enter a pin, followed by your email address to confirm your choice with a code.
Enable payment send notifications.
Turning on notifications will notify you of any unauthorized activity on your Venmo or Cash App accounts.
Navigate to Settings > Notifications on Venmo. Choose between push, text, and email notifications. You can toggle on and off notifications for bank transfers, payments received, payments sent, and much more under Push notifications. Turning on at least the payment sent notification is a good way to get notified right away if someone else sends money through your account.
Tap your profile icon in Cash App, then tap Notifications. Toggle on text or email push notifications.
Consider linking to a credit card rather than a bank account.
Though you can add a checking or savings account to Venmo, linking it to a credit card is more secure. Despite a 3% transaction fee, credit cards typically have much stronger theft and fraud protection than a traditional bank account.
To change your Venmo payment method, go to Settings > Payment methods and then tap Add bank or card. Then, on the Card screen, enter your credit card information.
Before you can use Cash App, you must first enter your bank account information. You can, however, sign up for a free Cash Card debit card, which will allow you to use funds sent to you via the app on the card.