Venmo is convenient, but the app comes with privacy risks if it’s not properly set up. Thankfully, Venmo is rolling out a new design for its mobile app that should make using the app less of a privacy concern.
The most notable change is to the notorious Global Feed: Venmo axed it completely. That’s right—you will no longer see a long list of random transactions between strangers when you open the app. There’s still a “social” feed that lists all recent public transactions your friends make, but that’s less intrusive than the global feed.
The loss of the global feed is a win for privacy-minded users, but there are still other issues the redesign doesn’t address.
For example, the new app still automatically links to your Facebook and phone contacts. And users can still search for and view other Venmo profiles, even if they’re not on each other’s friends list. If someone looks you up, they’ll see all your friends and past public transaction history. Even President Biden isn’t immune.
Having your information public makes it easy for scammers, thieves, and other unsavory sorts to target you, but you can easily avoid (most) unwanted attention by turning on Venmo’s strongest privacy settings.
- Open the app, and tap the three-line menu icon in the upper right.
- Select Settings > Privacy, and set your default privacy setting to “Private.” This makes all future transactions private between you and the other person unless you change the setting manually during the exchange.
- Next, tap “Past Transactions” and select “Change All to Private.” The “Change to Friends” option is better than leaving past transactions publicly viewable, but changing them all to private is safest.
- Next, go to Settings > Friends & social.
- Disable any auto-friending options you don’t want to use. You can also disable your Facebook account connection.
Remove and block contacts in Venmo
While turning your profile, friends list, and transaction history private will help prevent people you don’t know from looking you up or contacting you, it won’t do much to stop unwanted attention from users on your Venmo friends list. Luckily, you can quickly remove someone from your friends list:
- Go to your contact’s Venmo profile.
- Select “Friends” then tap “Unfriend.”
If the person keeps contacting you, or some random user keeps spamming you, you can block the person in the Venmo app. Blocked users are unable to find you in search results, see you in their feed, or request money from you. Here’s how:
- Go to the user’s profile page in the Venmo app.
- Tap the “…” icon in the upper right.
- Select “Block.”
- Close and restart the app for the block to take effect.
- You can view blocked accounts (or unblock them) in your block list under Settings > Block Users.
How to change your profile information on Venmo
If you really want to go anonymous, you can change your profile information—like name, account user name, and contact email—under Settings > Edit profile. You can also update your phone number under Settings > Change Phone Number. Just note that these changes will make it harder for friends and family to find you, too.
How to protect your device and login information
These changes will make your profile and transaction history more private, but it won’t stop someone from using the app if they get ahold of your phone, or potentially logging in from elsewhere if they know your login information. Thankfully, Venmo’s settings menu has several security options to make your account safer. The best option is to create a PIN code for Venmo transactions and other actions under Settings > PIN code & biometric unlock. You can also set up biometric verification for PayPal transactions in this menu.
If you suspect someone else is using your account, you can review a list of other devices using your Venmo profile—and sign out of unwanted locations—under Settings > Remembered devices. You should also change your password in Settings > Change password.
These setting changes will help keep your Venmo account safer, but even the most iron-clad, fully anonymous accounts are susceptible to data interception from hackers spying on public networks. Don’t make transactions on public wifi connections, as they’re often unsecured and easily exploited. A mobile VPN can help, but you need to be careful about those, too.
This post was originally posted on 5/18/2021 and was updated on 7/27/2021 now that the Venmo app is dropping the global public feed, and to add additional information about blocking and removing users from Venmo’s friends list.