Of all the types of accounts that can be hacked, few are more concerning than financial accounts. As finance apps like Venmo continue to rise in popularity, it begs the question: can they be hacked, and how can you protect yourself?
Venmo Hackers Do Exist
The short answer is yes; your Venmo account can be hacked. And cybercriminals will try to access it in the same ways they’ve always tried to access people’s accounts.
There’s one recently documented account of a Virginia teen whose Venmo account was hacked. Her savings were drained, along with several of her friends who were caught in the same scheme.
How did the hackers do it? They carried out a classic voice phishing scam.
According to news source WTKR, Virginia teen Jordan Wooley received a phone call from someone who claimed to be a Venmo representative.
The caller ironically told the 17-year-old that it looked like someone was trying to hack her account. They then sent her a text with a link to update her password. Once she did that, the hackers gained full access to her account.
They stole over $2,000 of her college savings money. Then they allegedly used her account to steal over $4,500 from other Venmo users she hadn’t even met.
Woods was even issued death threats from people who looked up her home address.
Other Forms of Venmo Scams
While Woods fell victim to a voice phishing scam, there are other ways hackers can infiltrate your Venmo account.
There is the in-person Venmo scam. It might be a stranger who asks if they can borrow your phone. But instead of calling or texting anyone, they’re clicking into your Venmo account and sending themselves your hard-earned money.
Check out this video detailing an in-person scam:
People have also fallen victim to the fake sale scam. That’s when a hacker poses as a seller of some type. If you try to buy their product, they’ll give you a Venmo address to send your money to. Once you send it, they cut off all communication, and you’re left with no product and no money. Worse, Venmo will do little to help you because it tells you to never buy items from a stranger in the app’s terms of service.
Some cybercriminals have used the reverse transaction scam. This is when they find a seller online who accepts Venmo. They then buy something from that seller. As soon as they receive their items, they reverse the transaction, leaving you holding an empty bag.
Some hackers have even been able to access Venmo accounts through Bluetooth on your phone. Once they gain access, they send themselves money while you move through your day, completely unaware.
How to Protect Yourself
Getting hacked can be a traumatic experience, especially when it involves your hard-earned money.
Luckily, there are some ways you can protect yourself.
Heavily Scrutinize Any Venmo Communications
Whether through a phone call, email, or text, make sure you thoroughly investigate anyone, even hinting that you need to change your password.
If someone sends you a link to update your credentials, thoroughly examine the link and website. Oftentimes, phishers will create a duplicate website that looks official but contains some irregularities. Sometimes their email addresses may contain a word like ‘Venmo’ in them, but it won’t be an official company email address.
If anyone ever asks for your password, it’s safe to assume they’re a hacker.
Enable Thumbprint Option for Transactions
Venmo has a feature that requires your thumbprint before any transaction. You should enable this feature in ‘settings’ to mitigate in-person scams and keep your account safe if someone has stolen your phone.
Create a Strong, Varied Password
No matter what type of account you have, hackers can always try to hack your password. Adding extra digits to your password can make it exponentially more challenging for a thief to crack.
For a sensitive account like a Venmo profile, we recommend creating at least a 16-character password containing random numbers, letters, and symbols.
Enable Two Factor Authentication
You should always set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for any accounts containing sensitive information. This way, even if a hacker cracks your password, they’ll still be unable to get the randomized codes created from a 2FA provider.
Venmo is a convenient and relatively safe app, but you should take precautions to protect yourself as with any apps and online services. Taking a few extra steps will make it extremely difficult for a hacker to breach your accounts.
If you think you’ve been hacked, reach out to us immediately.
If you want to secure all your online accounts, order our security audit here.
Featured image by Piotr Swat from Shutterstock.com