UTAH (ABC4) – Do you use Venmo? If so, make sure you’re not sending money to a fake friend on the app in a new scam.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Venmo users of a new scam where perpetrators pose as your friend. Nowadays, we all use digital payment apps so it’s important to stay alert in case you become the next target.

How the scam works

You’ll receive a Venmo request you weren’t expecting from a friend. The friend will ask for money using an excuse such as they lost their wallet, there’s an emergency, etc. The profile photo and name will look familiar to the real account. Before you send anything, make sure to check their username carefully.

At first glance, the username will look familiar, but will typically have a minor misspelling such as an extra letter in their name. In any situation where you receive a request for money that you weren’t expecting, the best practice is to call or text the person in real life to confirm. If you can’t reach them, tap on their Venmo profile to see a history of their recent requests and transactions. If the one sent to you isn’t there, it’s a scam.

Scammers are able to impersonate your personal contacts by using the information visible on your public profile. Your Venmo profile will usually show a list of recipients you’ve had transactions with. All it takes is one look at your history and a scammer has all the info they’ll need.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Always double check with your friend or family member first and only send money to those you know and are expecting to.
  • Keep your transactions from prying eyes by changing your Venmo settings to private.
  • Enable additional security settings such as multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN, or fingerprint recognition like Touch ID.
  • Link your the app to a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards will always provide an additional layer of security in case a payment is fraudulent or something goes wrong. When linking to your debit card, that layer of protection isn’t there when it’s linked directly to your personal bank account.

“This scam is just one of many cons using digital wallets apps, such as PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and Apple Pay,” says the BBB. “Be aware that unlike credit cards, many digital wallet vendors will not shoulder the cost of fraud. If you pay scammers using a digital wallet, you may not be successful in getting the company to reimburse you.”

With these tips, you can stay ahead of the game and ensure you don’t fall victim to a digital scammer.