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Whether you need to pay a friend back for dinner or send money to your family, Venmo is a useful tool to exchange money among those you trust. A hit among millennials, Venmo is a fast and easy way to transfer money. However, as with any payment method, this service is not without its risks and scammers are taking advantage of them. Similar to cashier check scams, thieves can exploit assumptions about how money is moving.

In a typical Venmo scam, a scammercontacts the victim about something they may be selling on Craigslist or any other website. They’ll ask if they can pay with Venmo, and will make the payment immediately. The victim receives a notification that the payment has been made, so they ship the item and consider the transaction complete. A few days later, the victim learns the transaction has been reversed. They’re now out the money and the item they were selling. http://time.com/money/4036511/venmo-more-check-than-cash/

Consumers should be warned that Venmo’s User Agreement prohibits this type of exchange so there are very few buyer or seller protections.

What can consumers do to stay safe?

  • Do not use Venmo with strangers. Only use it to exchange money back and forth with friends, family and those you trust.
  • Do not make large transactions with Venmo. It may seem convenient, but when purchasing high price items, consumers should use traditionalmeans to pay, such as cash or checks. Remember, when meeting a stranger to exchange money and goods, consumers should use caution. Consider asking your police department if they allow sale transactions. Check out our list for a start.
  • Link Venmo to a credit card. You’ll have more protections if something were to go wrong. Debit cards do not have the same protection because they are directly linked to bank accounts.
  • Check your account to make sure payments are being transferred Follow- up with family members or friends to see if they have received payments you made.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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