Paying online can always seem like a gamble. Unlike using a cash or a credit/debit card in person, you don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes when you submit your payment.
To reassure customers and keep the online economy spinning, several companies have emerged to help process payments and transactions. Some of these companies, like PayPal, have even gone on to become wildly successful enterprises. Tap or click to see the safest ways to pay online.
But now, one of PayPal’s affiliates is suffering from a notorious staple of the internet ecosystem: spam. This major peer-to-peer payment app is being flooded with spam cash requests. But don’t worry, there’s a way to fight back.
Users endure spam and scams
Numerous reports on Twitter have revealed a barrage of spam affecting Venmo users. Unlike other payment apps, Venmo features a social media-style feed that lets friends and followers see what transactions you’ve made. Unfortunately, this is what spammers have exploited in an attempt to make money.
The spam requests appear without warning and tend to range anywhere from $1 all the way up to $100. If you accidentally click on these messages, it can trigger a payment.
Interestingly (but unsurprisingly), nearly all the accounts making spam requests appear to be using women’s names and profile pictures. This is common for scammers, but there appears to be a specific reason in this case: It’s all part of the instructions.
Instructions? Was this pre-planned?
This wave of spam comes on the heels of a viral video with detailed instructions on how to make money on Venmo. This wasn’t directed in the same way as a “raid,” like you’d see from troll armies online, but more like a “how-to” tutorial.
A clip on the viral video platform TikTok made the rounds in the previous week with instructions on “how to find a Venmo sugar daddy.” Tap or click to see if TikTok is really safe enough for your kids to be using.
The clip appears to have been made by a young woman in a semi-ironic manner, and the bizarre effects used in the video only add to the strangeness of the whole incident.
It just goes to show you viral memes can have ripple effects that spread outside the internet at large.
How can I protect myself from this spam?
Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent spam requests from slamming your Venmo feed. Venmo’s feed has long been a target for critics and privacy advocates, and PayPal, Venmo’s parent company, has implemented a setting that lets you make your account private.
In Venmo, tap the menu icon in the upper-left corner, and then tap Settings. Select Privacy, and under Default Privacy Setting, tap Private. Next, tap on Past Transactions below, and select Change All to Private to make all past payments private.
This will prevent users you aren’t connected with from seeing your account, and will mitigate the spam that is currently flooding the platform. To Venmo’s credit, it has noticed the onslaught and is taking steps to penalize users who abuse the request function.
We will update this story if any further details emerge.