Change Your Venmo Privacy Settings Now! [Millions of Users Transactions Downloaded]

Johnny Reid


June 17, 2019

July 19, 2019

This week’s goHere Insight warns all of our readers that use Venmo to immediately go into their accounts and change their privacy settings immediately. Our team has used this payment service for years now and while it is convenient, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure privacy considering the concerning practices from parent company, PayPal, regarding misleading users on privacy issues. Read on for steps to secure your Venmo account and more information regarding this issue.

The FTC brought upon sanctions to PayPal for privacy and security violations regarding their peer-to-peer payment sending platform, Venmo. If you are one of the 40 million users who have used Venmo, your transaction privacy is at risk. You were misled by the platform ensuring users that the app’s security was considered bank grade like PayPal. Considering they are the parent company most just automatically assumed everything was all good. Unfortunately, the default setting for transactions in your Venmo account are set to public. This was in order to create the social platform type feel where you could see your friends’ transactions and like and comment on them. As a concept this is what brought people to Venmo in the first place, along with the little to no fees in the beginning for using the platform.

In 2016 was when the first alarming breach of bulk transactional data was scraped in significant volume and speed. At that time Venmo responded by focusing on making the data more difficult to scrape instead of addressing the privacy issues that created this whole mess. Not much has been done on PayPal’s end for trying to remediate this situation seeing as Dan Salmon (@bltjetpack) has scraped around 7 million transactions over the past 6 months to show that Venmo hasn’t done much to fix the easiness of downloading millions of transactions at speed through the company’s developer API.

By default, all transactions on Venmo are set to public and there was even a warning when users tried to change their default settings to private. Venmo has since removed that warning. Shown below are visual instructions on how to change your default privacy settings to private and how you can change all of your past transactions to private or friends only.

Our recommendation is to set all of your past transactions to private and also your default settings to private as well. While this will limit the social interaction for your new transactions, you can always change that right before you click send on a payment or request. Moving forward if you want to keep the fun, social interactive features of Venmo just select the privacy setting, Friends, when you send a payment. Having the option for transactions to be public or visible to everyone on the internet is an absolute abomination. Yes, half of the fun of Venmo is seeing what your friends sent to one another and interacting which is why we recommend selecting the Friends privacy option whenever you send out a payment. Overall, just be sure that your default is NOT set to public. If you’re really irritated by this news, maybe try Cash App.

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