The app automatically sets your privacy setting to public.
When you setup your Venmo account, the app automatically sets your privacy setting to public which allows anyone who uses the app the ability to see who you are paying.
“Venmo was designed for sharing experiences with your friends in today’s social world, and the news feed has always been a big part of this,” explained a Venmo spokesperson.
The spokesperson added, “the safety and privacy of Venmo users and their information is always a top priority. Our users trust us with their money and personal information, and we take this responsibility and applicable privacy laws very seriously.”
While users have the ability to write a description for what they’re paying for, which are often tongue-in-cheek or filled with emojis, the public access can allow criminals to track your transactions.
“You can get involved in phishing schemes, identity theft. If someone wants to find you they may know you are going to a particular store,” warned Sgt. Robert Long with the Gates Police Department.
One user worried “if someone does steal your identity, they know who you pay, what you buy. So, it gives the habits you have.”
Say you often pay a friend for lunch at the same location every Monday. You may not notice a fraudulent charge if the cybercriminal uses the same description and amount.
It could also open you up to targeted phishing attacks.
“I’m going to take that information. I’m going to come up with a phishing email and say, ‘Hey its Target. Thank you for your loyalty. We’ve seen you’ve been here so many times. Here’s a great deal. Click to check it out.’ Ok great. Click! And then it’s over,” warned Paul Robinson, a CyberSecurity Solutions Advisor with GreyCastle Security in Rochester.
Venmo does allow you to set the privacy level for each individual payment right from the payment screen.
“If you’ve set the privacy level to private, we will not share activity information anywhere other than your own personal feed and the feed of the other person involved. If you do choose to share, the payment amounts are always private,” wrote a company spokesperson in an email to News10NBC.
It is simple to change your settings to private.
Step One: open the app
Step Two: go to Settings
Step Three: hit Privacy
Step Four: select Private
Those steps will make your transactions only visible to those who you interact with. The other option is to have it visible to friends.