Were You Scammed on Venmo?
Jessica Roy was juggling diaper changes, feeding schedules, and the responsibilities of new motherhood when she received a notification that a stranger had sent her $500 on Venmo for an “antique table” [*].
But Jessica wasn’t selling a table. Thinking the whole thing was a big misunderstanding, she was about to send the money back — but something didn’t feel right. Luckily for Jessica, she looked up “accidental Venmo payments” and quickly learned that she was being targeted by a scammer.
Fraudsters use stolen credit card numbers to send money to hundreds of people. But once the credit card’s rightful owner reports the fraud, the bank reverses the charge — which means that the stolen $500 would have come out of Jessica’s account.
Unfortunately, Venmo scams like these are only becoming more common.
Fraudsters have learned how to take advantage of Venmo (and other peer-to-peer payment services like Zelle and Cash App) to scam victims out of millions.
If you’ve been scammed on Venmo, you need to act quickly if you want to recover your lost money. In this guide, we’ll cover what to do if you’ve been scammed on Venmo and how you can try to get your money back.
Will Venmo Refund Money If You’ve Been Scammed?
In most cases, the answer is no.
There is no way to cancel a Venmo payment once it’s been sent. Venmo also typically doesn’t get involved in financial disputes between users (instead, you’re better off contacting your bank).
The one exception is if you’ve marked a payment to a personal profile as a “purchase.” In this case, you may be eligible for Venmo’s Purchase Protection [*].
According to Venmo’s user agreement, Purchase Protection only applies if:
- You receive something different from what you bought.
- An item was damaged in shipping.
- Parts are missing for the item you purchased.
- Your purchase never arrives.
Unfortunately, most Venmo scams don’t use a business account — so your payments won’t qualify for Purchase Protection.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), only 14% of people scammed on Venmo in 2021 were able to recover their funds [*].
The odds for recovering lost or stolen Venmo funds are better than other payment methods, such as Cash App and Zelle — but still significantly worse than those who used PayPal or a credit card.
For the best chances of getting back your lost money, there are steps that you can take.
How To Get Your Money Back If You Were Scammed on Venmo
- Send a charge request to the recipient
- Try to reverse a pending payment
- File for Venmo Purchase Protection
- Contact Venmo support and get them involved
- File a police report
- Inform your bank or credit card company of the fraud
- Report and block the Venmo scammer
- Freeze your credit
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
- Consider signing up for a digital security solution
If you’ve been scammed on Venmo or if you sent money to the wrong person, here’s what you can do to try and get your money back:
1. Send a charge request to the recipient
Venmo transfers (as well as transfers via other payment apps) are treated like cash. Once the money has been received by the recipient, there’s no way to force them to return it.
Instead, there are only three situations in which you’ll be able to get your money back:
- The recipient agrees to send the money back to you.
- You manage to “take back” a pending transaction.
- You successfully dispute the transaction with Venmo or your bank.
Venmo won’t step in until you’ve tried to resolve the issue yourself. In some cases, the “scam” may actually just be a mistake or misunderstanding.
Here’s what to do:
- At the bottom of the Venmo app, tap the “Pay/Request” button.
- Add the username or information for the person from whom you want to request a refund.
- Enter the amount in question along with a short note.
- Tap “Request.”
You’ll be notified in the app (or via email) if the person denies the request.
2. Try to reverse a pending payment
On the off chance that the scammers are not very organized, you may see that the payment is flagged as “pending.” This means that they haven’t set up an active Venmo account associated with the phone number or email to which you sent the money — and you can cancel the payment.
Here’s what to do:
- Tap the “Me” tab and locate the payment.
- Look for a “Take Back” button next to the payment.
- The payment will then be refunded back to your original payment method (within five business days).
You can also access your transaction history through the Venmo website and try to cancel a pending payment.
3. File for Venmo Purchase Protection
If your payment was flagged as a “purchase” you may be eligible for Venmo’s Purchase Protection plan. Purchase Protection covers situations in which you pay for an item and either receive nothing or an item that is broken, different, or fake.
An example would be if a scammer lists an item for sale on Facebook Marketplace as authentic, but you receive a counterfeit copy.
Here’s how to file a Purchase Protection claim:
- In the Venmo app: Tap “Get Help” and then submit a ticket explaining what happened.
- Online: Use Venmo’s online support ticket form to file a complaint.
Make sure to include any relevant information, including the payment date and amount, and the username of the person to whom you sent the money.
4. Contact Venmo support and get them involved
If you still can’t get a refund, dispute the transaction with Venmo’s customer service.
Venmo makes no promises that they’ll refund money you sent to a scammer — only that they’ll “investigate any available options.”
Contact support in the Venmo app under “Home” and then “Get Help” or use this online form.
Make sure you include:
- The username of the person to whom you sent money.
- The amount of the payment.
- The date of the payment.
You can also include attachments, such as screenshots of your communications with the scammer, or the phishing scam that tricked you into sending money.
This gets the process started with Venmo, but there’s no clear information or timeline for what “options” are available. Even worse, Venmo states that they will only refund an unauthorized transaction if:
- The recipient gives explicit permission to refund the transaction.
- Their account is in good standing.
- They still have the funds available in their Venmo account.
Not many scammers will give permission to take back their ill-gotten funds. But it’s still worth a shot to contact Venmo support.
5. File a police report
If Venmo still doesn’t help — or if you want to pursue other avenues — you can try to file a chargeback or dispute with the payment method that you used to fund your Venmo account (such as your bank or credit card company).
But first, you’ll need a police report.
Contact your local law enforcement’s non-emergency line (i.e., not 911) and ask for their fraud department. Explain what happened, and tell them the steps you’ve already taken. Provide as much information as you can about the fraud and how it occurred.
The police will create a file that you can reference when you continue trying to get your money back.
6. Inform your bank or credit card company of the fraud
If the amount you sent wasn’t covered by your Venmo balance and instead came out of a linked bank account or credit or debit card, you can file a dispute with the bank or card issuer.
Contact your financial institution’s fraud department and explain what happened. They may also suggest that you close your current account (to stop further fraud) and issue you a new credit card or bank account number.
7. Report and block the Venmo scammer
To stop further scams or harassment, you should also block the user in Venmo.
Here’s what to do:
- Use the search bar at the top of the Venmo app to find the scammer and go to their profile page.
- Then, tap on the three circles (“...”) in the upper-right corner of the screen.
- Select “Block.”
Once users are blocked, they won’t show up in your network, be able to find you on Venmo, or send money requests or payments.
Note: You need to log out and then back in to your Venmo account in order for the block to be put in place.
8. Freeze your credit
Some Venmo scams steal more than money — scammers may have your sensitive financial information as well. If this is the case, fraudsters could potentially open new accounts or take out loans in your name.
Whenever you become the victim of fraud or identity theft, it’s a good idea to freeze your credit.
A credit freeze stops anyone from accessing your credit report and opening new accounts in your name.
To freeze your credit, contact each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — and request a credit freeze:
- Equifax: Place a credit freeze online or call 1-800-349-9960.
- Experian: Place a credit freeze online or call 1-888-397-3742.
- TransUnion: Place a credit freeze online or call 1-888-909-8872.
You can also lock your credit with a single tap by using Aura’s all-in-one digital security app.
9. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tracks and reports on scams. If you’ve lost money or given up sensitive information that could be used for identity theft — such as your name, address, credit card number, Social Security number (SSN), etc. — you should report it to the FTC.
Report the scam to official government authorities by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or by visiting ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
10. Consider signing up for a digital security solution
In the best case scenario, a Venmo scam only results in the loss of a small amount of money. But fraudsters are often after more.
They want access to your financial or personal information that they can use for identity theft and further scams. If they get it, they can do serious damage to your credit, identity, and reputation.
Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution monitors your most sensitive information while also proactively protecting you from identity theft and fraud.
Here’s how Aura can keep you safe from Venmo scams and other types of fraud:
- 24/7 credit monitoring with the industry's fastest fraud alerts. Aura monitors your bank, credit, and investment accounts in near real-time for signs of fraud. If anything suspicious is detected, Aura will alert you up to 250x faster than the competition3.
- A secure password manager that warns you if your accounts are compromised. Aura scans the Dark Web and recent data breaches to see if your usernames and passwords have been leaked. If your passwords are found online, Aura will alert you and then help you replace them with new, more secure passwords that you can manage with a single click.
- Antivirus and a VPN to keep your devices safe from hackers. Hackers can come after your money transfer apps and devices. Aura’s antivirus software and virtual private network (VPN) ensure that your devices and networks are secured against hacking.
- #1-rated identity theft protection. Aura constantly monitors your most sensitive personal information (such as your SSN, name, address, home title, and more) for signs of fraud. You’ll be alerted in near real-time of any suspicious activity.
- $1,000,000 insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft. If the worst should happen, you have 24/7 access to a team of fraud resolution specialists as well as insurance protection that covers damages caused by identity theft.
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Was Your Venmo Account Hacked? Do This!
If you see unauthorized activity in your Venmo account, you may have been hacked. In this case, you’ll want to immediately secure your account to prevent further losses.
Here’s what to do if your Venmo account has been hacked:
Change or reset your Venmo password
If you still have access to your account: you should change your password immediately.
Log in to your account via the Venmo website or app on your Android or iOS device. Then, select Settings, Profile, and then Change Password. You’ll need to enter your current password first before selecting a new one.
If hackers have changed your Venmo account password: you’ll need to request a password reset.
Go to your Venmo account’s sign-in page and then select Forgot Password. Enter the email and phone number attached to your account to get a password reset link.
Update your Venmo account’s email address
Scammers may be using your email address to try and access your Venmo account. If you have a backup or secondary email address, switch your Venmo account to it to prevent further hacking attempts.
Start by logging in to your Venmo account. Then, select Settings, Profile, and then scroll down to your account’s email address. Update and verify the email address by clicking on the link in the confirmation email you receive.
Remove assets and unlink bank accounts
If hackers have access to your Venmo account, they can steal any stored funds or even gain access to your linked bank, debit, or credit card accounts.
Sign in to your Venmo account and then select Settings and then Payment Methods. Tap or click on each account or card and select Remove.
Contact your bank to close compromised accounts
You should also contact your bank to cancel any compromised accounts or cards before scammers can withdraw your funds. Reach out to your bank’s fraud department and explain the situation. Highlight any unauthorized transactions (such as purchases or online subscriptions) and then ask them to cancel your cards and accounts and issue you new ones.
Reach out to Venmo support for help
Venmo should know if your account was hacked so they can freeze your account and stop scammers from using it in the future.
You can contact Venmo support by using their online contact form, chatting with a representative in the app (8:00am–10:00pm CT, seven days a week), or calling 855-812-4430 (8:00am–8:00pm CT, seven days a week).
How To Secure Your Venmo Account Against Scammers
It’s always better to take a proactive approach towards security rather than deal with the headache of trying to get back money from scammers or fraudsters.
Here’s how you can secure your Venmo account and avoid being a victim of fraud in the future:
- Use a unique and strong password for your Venmo account. Use a password that is at least 10 characters long and includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. On your mobile device, make sure to use any biometric security measures, such as facial recognition or fingerprint ID.
- Add a PIN to your Venmo account. Once you enable a PIN, you’ll be asked for it any time you open the Venmo app or send payments to other users. This can help protect your account if your phone gets stolen or scammers gain access to it.
- Secure your account with two-factor authentication (2FA). Enabling 2FA on your Venmo account requires a special code that deters anyone who tries to take over your account. Unfortunately, Venmo only uses SMS for 2FA codes, which isn’t the most secure option.
- Never give away your personal information or Venmo login credentials. Venmo representatives will never ask for your login details, password, bank account information, or other sensitive data. If someone calls, sends you a smishing text, or messages you on social media asking for this information, it’s a scam.
- Only trust emails and messages from official Venmo domains. Any emails from Venmo will come from a “Venmo.com” email address and will include a link to their secure Document Upload Form on a “help.venmo.com” page. Anything else (such as a Gmail or Yahoo! email address or lookalike domain) is a scam.
- Turn off default public settings. Change your privacy settings to prevent strangers from seeing your past transactions (and using those to target you with scams). Ideally, your Venmo account should be set to “Private.”
- Stay logged out of Venmo. Don’t keep your account open on your phone. Instead, log out whenever you’re done using the app.
- Don’t access Venmo over public Wi-Fi. Fraudsters can hack into public Wi-Fi networks and spy on you as you make mobile payments. This could give them access to your Venmo account password or financial account details.
- Keep your phone secure. Make sure your phone screen is locked using a secure passcode or biometrics. Then, update your phone’s lock screen time to as short a time span as possible. This stops scammers from stealing your phone while it’s unlocked and accessing your Venmo account. You should also make sure to keep your phone OS and software up to date to avoid falling prey to security vulnerabilities.
- Don’t link your bank account. Venmo allows you to link different payment methods for funding your account and making transfers. Avoid linking your bank account or debit cards — as it’s harder to dispute fraudulent transactions from them. Instead, use your credit card, which includes low (or no) liability for any stolen money.
- Turn on Venmo payment notifications. Set up payment notifications via text message or email so that you’re notified whenever a payment comes out of your account.
- Double-check every transaction. Make sure you’re sending the right amount of money to the correct account. Be mindful of typos in usernames or sending money to someone who has the same name as a family member. Remember, transfers on Venmo are like cash. Once they’re gone, it’s almost impossible to get them back.
- Only contact Venmo customer support through the app or official phone number. Don’t call phone numbers that you find via Google searches (this is a common method used to trick victims in tech support scams). Instead, contact Venmo using the methods listed on their official website. And remember, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from Venmo, this is a scam. Hang up and block the number.
- Don’t keep a large Venmo balance. Only keep what you need in your Venmo app. It’s always better to move your balance to your bank account quickly.