How secure are money-transferring apps like Venmo?

Sending your money safely

LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- Jenna Stratton and Raul Garrastacu are pretty similar. They both go to Florida Southern College, and they both have smart phones on them most of the time.

However, they don’t feel the same way about money-transferring apps like Venmo.

Stratton used it once. She was concerned at first, but said she would definitely use it again.

“It was fine,” she said. “I haven’t had any issues, and it was really easy and quick.”

Garrastacu said he’d rather pay people back with cash.

“I just don’t trust those types of apps that deal with money and security stuff,” he explained.

Money-transferring apps are becoming more and more common among college students and millennials in general. But how safe are they?

Venmo touts its security on its website, saying your financial information is encrypted, stored and protected on secure servers, but it also warns people, “Venmo does not offer buyer and seller protection.”

Florida Polytechnic University professor Kanwalinderjit Gagneja said any type of app like Venmo -- even if it’s run by a bank -- is susceptible to hackers.

She said there’s only so much security in a small phone, and even secure servers can be hacked. Gagneja doesn’t go so far as to tell people not to use these apps, but she doesn't use them herself.

“Maybe 99 percent of the time, the things are going okay, but we never think of one percent that can go wrong.”

Gagneja  explained one way you can protect yourself is by not making transactions while you’re using public Wi-Fi, such as at a restaurant or a coffee shop. Instead, use a private network like your own at home.

One thing experts and Venmo agree on is that you should not use the app to make a transaction with a stranger on Craigslist or another site. 10News WTSP did reach out to Venmo and they responded with the following statement:

"Venmo uses data encryption to keep users safe and guard against unauthorized transactions and access to personal or financial information. And we have processes in place to protect you from suspicious activity. For instance, anytime we detect a sign-in attempt from a phone or browser you haven’t previously used to access Venmo, we’ll ask you to verify it's really you. And if your email or phone number is changed, we’ll alert you immediately via email or text. The people who use Venmo are the focus of everything we do and our goal is to ensure they always have a positive experience when using Venmo."


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