The Risks of Venmo for Students
Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com
Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
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Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com
Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com
Using apps to manage money and pay friends or a business easily can be a great financial education for students. With the convenience of making payments from your phone, comes risk to your privacy. Students using the app must be aware of the dangers and how to be aware of the privacy of their transactions.
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What is the Venmo app?
- Venmo is an app that allows users to pay each other through the app using a connected bank account or with the specific Venmo Debit Card
- While it may not be considered a traditional social media app, Venmo says they provide
“Social payments between friends...where money enhances friendships rather than complicating them.” Venmo
- In technical terms, Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment (P2P) system that allows users to transfer money virtually
- Some parents find it helpful to teach financial lessons
Dangers of “social payments” in Venmo for young students
- Transactions may be seen in their public profile on Venmo and/or on their Facebook if they have given the apps permission to connect--including physical locations
- Other users can “tag” users in a transaction note or comment, that could be seen in any profile of others tagged who do not make their profiles private (Venmo)
- Users don’t have to be connected with other users to pay them on the app and even Venmo recommends sending payment only to people you know (not strangers)
- Venmo asks for access to your contacts when signing up, which has been made public for anyone to see, whether you interact with them on Venmo or not
- The social aspect of Venmo allows drug dealers and predators to connect with students based on hashtags or emojis they share
Where is Venmo available?
Apple App Store Rating: 4+
Google Play: E (Everyone)
App Website: venmo.com
Owned By: PayPal
Based In: New York
“The Services are not directed to children under the age of 13.”
Venmo in the news
The Venmo community has grown to more than 70 million customers, so this change allows customers to connect and share meaningful moments and experiences with the people who matter most.
In addition to publicly posting transactions, Venmo lets users import their contacts as "friends." The first screen users see is a feed of their friends' purchases. (Friends lists can't be hidden, and the only way to hide your connections is to delete your friends.)
...A swindler tells the user they need to cough up a refundable fee to activate their service. The money is requested via PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, or even gift cards. Of course, none of the money is refunded.
More than ever, people feel comfortable sharing the details of their finances… We've been enticed to share more and more details, and we do. But while more transparency around money is generally a good thing, the act of turning our transactions and personal finance into theater could have damaging consequences.
One scam going around is sending a user a text message or phone call claiming to be from Venmo and saying someone is trying to use your account. They’ll want to send a text message and ask that you reply to it to change your password. Once that happens, they’ll be able to access your Venmo account. A Venmo user in Virginia lost over $2,000 in this phishing scheme.
Is Venmo a safe app for students?
- Venmo can be a good option for teaching financial responsibility without having to keep track of cash
- Venmo did remove its global social feed, limiting how much information other users can see
- If students are aware of the privacy settings on their transactions and the consequences of strangers finding their physical location or bullying them based on their Venmo transactions, the app can be safe
- Scammers on social media or email can trick users into paying a ransom via Venmo when they know the user has an account
- Parents and students should have specific discussions and agreements of how the student’s Venmo is to be used, what bank account is attached to the student’s profile, and who is responsible for the mismanagement of the money if it happens
What can parents and students do to stay safe on Venmo?
- Students should share their Venmo (and all social media) passwords with their parents for monitoring
- We recommend NOT allowing Venmo and Facebook to connect to help reduce the social connections, especially in connection to money
- Student’s Default Privacy Setting should be set to Private AND users should ensure each transaction’s “Who can see this” is set to Private so the sender and recipient only see the transaction
- Students should encourage their friends to not share their transactions publicly or tag them
- Families should talk about what potential scammers look or sound like and students should always consult with their parents before paying any type of bribe money someone is requesting
- Financial experts recommend anyone not keeping large amounts of money in the Venmo “wallet” and using a debit or credit card with extra payment protections, even though there may be additional fees
- Users should practice safe password practices, like not repeating the same password among multiple log-ins or sharing the password with friends
Venmo is a very popular social app that makes going out with friends and splitting a bill easier than ever so the fun isn’t interrupted with awkward money conversations. Students can build financial skills while under the watch and support of their parents using apps like Venmo. However, if not aware of the social connections the app software creates, students can lose their privacy online and find themselves in financial troubles at any age.
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