Venmo Suspicious Activity Text: Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

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May. 24 2021, Published 10:14 a.m. ET

Users of Venmo are reporting phishing attempts that warn of “suspicious activity” by text and ask users to follow a link to sign-in and review the activity.

In March, someone from Hawaii reported a scam to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker after receiving a text message reading, “Venmo Msg: We have detected suspicious activity into your account. Please check for unrecognized transaction.”

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Then the text message provided a link to a website that definitely isn't Venmo’s website.

“Nothing wrong with my account,” that user added in a follow-up text. “They sent a text with a link, but I did not click the link.”

A Reddit post rang the alarm about phishing text bots using Venmo.

That BBB scam report echoes a PSA someone posted to Reddit in February. “There is currently a text bot sending very convincing texts claiming to be Venmo’s fraud service,” that Reddit user wrote. “They ask you to follow a link that looks like it’s Venmo’s and sign in. … Venmo will not send you texts asking you to sign in. No bank will. Instead, any legitimate fraud alert will ask you to sign in to their app/website without providing the link.”

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As the Redditor pointed out, you can often identify Venmo phishing links because the word “venmo” will be the subdomain instead of the domain. In other words, “venmo” won’t appear directly before “.com” in the URL.

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In a different Venmo scam, users send “accidental” payments with stolen credit cards.

In March, the BBB alerted Venmo and CashApp users to another scam, one involving unexpected payments. In that scam, a user sends a seemingly accidental payment to their target, then contacts the user, claiming that the payment was a mistake and asking the user to send the money back.

“What you don’t realize, is you’ll send that money back, and that money was never there,” Troy Baker, director of the BBB Western Michigan Educational Foundation, told WZZM13. “It was usually done with a stolen credit card or some other payment, that gets rescinded. … You’re not supposed to send [money] to people you don’t know. It’s not for purchases with people you don’t know, and there’s no protection if it goes wrong.”

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Venmo warns customers about other common scams on the payment platform.

In a support article, Venmo lists common scams on its platform, along with tips for keeping your money secure. “Remember: Outside of paying authorized merchants, Venmo is designed for payments between friends and people who trust each other,” the company says.

One such scam is a scheme in which someone asks for a small amount of money in exchange for a large amount down the line… and then never pays. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Venmo advises.

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Also, the company says that people try to scam Venmo sellers by sending screenshots of fake email receipts from Venmo payments. They claim that the payment will go through after the item is ships or they pay with stolen credit cards or ill-gotten bank information. “Don’t use Venmo to sell anything to strangers,” Venmo says.

People try to scam Venmo buyers by demanding full or partial payment upfront and then not delivering the good or service, or providing fake shipping information. “Don’t use Venmo to buy anything from anyone you don’t know and trust,” the company says.

Scammers also impersonate users’ friends by changing their usernames and profile photos. They use information from transactions in those friends’ public feed and send urgent requests for money. When in doubt, the company says, contact your friend outside of Venmo and ask about the request.

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