An app designed to make quick, digital payments between friends (and strangers) in just a few taps, Venmo has eased the hassle of splitting a dinner bill, buying event tickets as a group or any other reason you need to settle a money-sharing situation. Within the app, you can find someone through their phone number, username, or QR code to then send or request money.

In creating a Venmo account, users can link their app to a checking account, debit or credit card in order to send and receive money as intended. On the app’s homepage, you can sift through transaction logs showing payments made by other people. Not just friends, anyone. Upon opening Venmo, users are able to filter through global, network (friends and social contacts) and personal payment feeds, seeing who has charged/paid who and their reason, but never the amount transferred.

Given the publicity of transactions and the app’s connection to a credit/debit card or bank account, many people wonder: how secure is Venmo? Read on to learn about security measures, how to best protect yourself, what to do if an issue arises and just how safe Venmo is.

How secure is Venmo?

Venmo’s link to your bank and/or credit card account is what enables payments to be sent from person to person. Money received can be stored on the application’s platform for future payments, or users can have funds pulled directly from bank or card accounts. Thanks to an application programing interface (API), Venmo is able to process transactions in a safe way and connect businesses and websites to their services.

According to their website, Venmo stores user information on servers in secure locations and has encryption protocols in place to protect their client’s payment information. Through their API and concealing of private data, Venmo is able to provide a seemingly safe and secure platform for users to send and receive cash. There are some things, however, that can be done to enhance your security within this money transfer app.

How to protect your personal information on Venmo

Every Venmo account has to be set up with a username and password. As an added layer of security, Venmo gives users the option to set up a PIN, face ID, or fingerprint scan in order to access their application. If anyone were to steal your phone and attempt to wrongfully distribute your money, these extra security measures would reduce the risk of them being able to manipulate your account.

In Venmo’s privacy settings, users are able to opt out of who is able to see their transactions. Rather than sticking with the default Public setting, switch your account to Friends or Private in order to protect yourself from the whole world seeing your monthly electric bill payment to your roommate. While the social aspect of Venmo can be entertaining, it’s completely unnecessary. Also on this page is the option to allow other users to find your account by email address or phone number, which you can toggle on/off based on your preferences. Here you can also access any users you’ve blocked and put stricter privacy settings on your past transactions.

In addition to setting up your app, there are a few Venmo tips you can use to conduct yourself in the safest way. As a general rule, don’t leave too much money in your Venmo balance as this money is the most accessible for anyone trying to pry into your account. A workable balance is nice to keep to avoid constant transfers, but at a certain threshold you should move your money to your bank account where it’s better protected. Additionally, users should only exchange funds with people they actually know or are sharing info with in person. Turning on notifications will allow for the easiest tracking of login attempts, requests and payments.

What happens if you get scammed on Venmo?

Even with security features in place on the app and ways to keep your account safe, the unfortunate truth is that there are Venmo scams designed to trick you into parting with your own funds voluntarily.

One Venmo scam involves thieves actually paying accounts an oddly large amount of money in order to conduct their scheme. From there, they often will contact their victim, claiming they “made a mistake on the username” or “paid by accident” and ask you nicely to send it back. The problem is, these scammers are likely using a stolen credit card to fund the account or have intentions of disputing their initial transfer, putting you out of the money you thought you were sending back. Handling cases like these is easy — don’t engage with scammers like this.

The most common Venmo scam comes when you are selling things via Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or any other “e”-state sale. When the buyer uses Venmo and you hand over or ship their purchase, your account will show the recently received funds. Although this makes it seem like it’s all said and done, payments take several days to process from bank/card account to Venmo and eventually into your account. This allows scammers a window of time to reverse the transaction, potentially by disconnecting their account. In most cases, the account you were “paid” by will be unfindable on the app and you’ll be left without a product and without payment.

Due to defining themselves as a service that’s meant to be used “between friends and people who trust each other”, Venmo typically doesn’t help their users out in these cases. Additionally, there’s no offering of buyer or seller protection through Venmo. With these less-than-ideal policies in place, try to avoid accepting large payments through Venmo and be sure about who you choose to interact with on the app. For major cases, taking legal action or getting the police involved may be the only real solution out of a scam.

Should you use Venmo?

Venmo offers an easy-to-use and intuitive service to make payments. Tracking your balance and keeping order of your routine payments is simple through the app and can be reviewed at any time.

Of course, there are several choices available when it comes to digitally sending money or splitting a check between friends. In addition to options like PayPal, CashApp or simply using cash, most banks now offer Zelle as a potential alternative to Venmo. It’s difficult to determine which is the best — they have similar security protocols and their convenience will likely depend on each individual’s payment network.

All in all, Venmo is affordable, user-friendly and provides options when it comes to linking a money source, something not featured in all peer-to-peer apps. Transfers are free and fast (typically next-day), users aren’t difficult to find and by taking the right protective measures, Venmo can be a safe, convenient payment option.