How to Protect Yourself on Venmo in 5 Minutes

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With Venmo being one of the most popular ways to send money, it makes sense to wonder what’s keeping your personal data and digital wallet safe. Venmo has made strides to improve its security in the past two years, but here’s the short answer to how safe Venmo is—protecting yourself comes almost entirely down to you.

How to Keep Your Personal Info Safe on Venmo

It takes only five minutes to make your Venmo account more secure by doing three things.

1. Change the default audience

Venmo sets its default audience to public, which means anyone can see your transactions. Venmo never displays the amount you pay someone, but everything else is fair game. Strangers can see names (both yours and the recipient’s) and payment messages (e.g., “thanks for the b-day dinner”), which can make it easier for someone to impersonate you and request payments from friends or family.

How to: Go to Settings, under the Sharing category (called Privacy & Sharing on iOS) select Default Audience, and change to “Participants Only” (the default setting of Venmo is set to “Public”). If you don’t want to let go of the social aspect of Venmo, at the very least change the default audience to “Friends” so only friends can see your payment details and messages. Not only will changing the default audience setting make you less susceptible to fraudsters, but you won’t have coworkers find out you didn’t invite them out for drinks after work.

2. Turn on alerts and notifications

Venmo has gotten better about notifying users of activity on their accounts, but you may need to tweak a few settings to ensure you’re never in the dark if something happens. For example, by default Venmo will alert you to account activity via email. However, if you’re the type of person who avoids checking your inbox or gets drowned in emails every day, an important Venmo account notification could get lost.

How to: You can turn on text notifications or customize alerts by going to Settings, selecting Alerts and Notifications, and then choosing Push, Text, or Email Notifications. Alerts and notifications are incredibly easy to personalize, so do what works best for you. Setting up the right alerts will help you stay on top of what’s happening on your Venmo account.  

3. Set up a PIN code

Even if you already have a PIN for your phone, you should set up a separate one for Venmo. If someone were to come across your unlocked phone, they could immediately open your Venmo app and mess around with your money. Adding a separate PIN for the Venmo app provides yet another layer of security for you to fall back on should your phone fall into the wrong hands.

How to: Go to Settings and select PIN Code under the security settings (steps may vary on iOS). Follow the instructions to set up a four-digit PIN, and you’re good to go. Now, whenever the Venmo app is opened, it will immediately ask for the PIN.

What Venmo Does to Protect You

To remain compliant with federal banking standards, Venmo uses the same type of data encryption and storage you would expect from an online bank. For many, just knowing that much may provide some comfort. However, though Venmo makes efforts to keep your data secure, it does not offer buyer or seller protection for unauthorized third parties. You may wonder why that is, but it goes back to the purpose of Venmo—it’s a service for sending money to friends and family, not strangers.  

If you want to stay safe on Venmo, simply don’t send money to people you don’t know. Venmo isn’t meant for purchasing Lady Gaga concert tickets from someone you found on Craigslist.  

In the past, Venmo didn’t offer other security features, like two-step authentication, but now two-step authentication is on every Venmo account by default (see image). If you’re unfamiliar with two-step authentication, it’s when you try to log in to an account from an unfamiliar device (computer, smartphone, etc.) and you’re required to enter a passcode sent via text. It’s an awesome security feature, and you should be using it for more than just Venmo.  

One More Thing to Know about Venmo

There is one extra step that will help you stay protected on Venmo, and that is using a credit card instead of a debit card or checking account. Yes, there is a 3% fee on transactions with a credit card, but most credit cards won’t hold you liable if you’re a victim of fraud.

Note: If you lose your phone or it gets stolen, revoke phone access by logging in to Venmo via computer and contact Venmo immediately.

Is Venmo Safe to Use?

The real answer lies with you. If you take five minutes to set up the security settings (create a PIN code, turn on alerts, etc.) and change the default audience—don’t ever set it to “Public”—you’ll make yourself a much harder target for fraud. It’s not a perfect service, but Venmo is much better about its security now, so the rest is up to you.

Image: istock

The post How to Protect Yourself on Venmo in 5 Minutes appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards That Offer Special Incentives for Mobile Wallets

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[Disclosure:  Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Mobile wallets offer an alternative payment method at the cash register, giving customers the power to pay using their smartphones or even their smart watches. They also offer several advantages: they’re fast, they’re convenient, and they can be linked to a variety of funding sources.

But many mobile wallets lack the cash back or points rewards you can get with major credit cards. Some credit card issuers have responded by offering cards with special incentives for linking your card to a mobile wallet.

Here are three credit cards with special mobile wallet benefits.

1. US Bank Altitude Reserve

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on eligible travel expenses and mobile wallets spending, one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $400
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 16.74% APR.
Why We Picked It: Mobile wallet purchases earn triple points, and the card comes with huge travel benefits.
For Your Mobile Wallet: This card is compatible with popular mobile wallets, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and Microsoft Wallet. You’ll get triple points for every dollar spent through those mobile wallets or on travel. Points can be redeemed for many things, but the greatest value is reserved for travel redemptions. Plus, the card comes with a wide range of travel benefits, including $325 in annual travel credits and airport lounge access.

Drawbacks: The wealth of travel benefits comes at a steep cost, with a $400 annual fee.

2. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

Rewards: 1.8% cash back for 12 months on qualified mobile wallet purchases, 1.5% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$200 bonus cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee:
$0
APR:
0% for 12 months, then variable 13.99% to 25.99% APR
Why We Picked It:
For the first year, you’ll avoid interest and get extra cash back with select mobile wallets.
For Your Mobile Wallet:
Android Pay and Apple Pay purchases earn 1.8% cash back for the first year, while all other purchases earn 1.5% cash back. Plus, you’ll get a solid 12 months of interest-free purchases and balance transfers.

Drawbacks: The extra cash back rate for mobile wallets expires after one year.

3. PayPal Extras MasterCard

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants, two points per dollar spent at PayPal and eBay, and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
None
Annual Fee:
$0
APR:
Variable 20.99% or 24.99% APR, based on your credit.
Why We Picked It:
If you already use PayPal’s mobile wallet, earning rewards with this card should be a breeze.
For Your Mobile Wallet:
You’ll earn triple points on gas station and restaurant purchases, double points on PayPal and eBay purchases, and single points everywhere else. You can use your physical card or link it directly to your PayPal mobile wallet. Points can be redeemed for PayPal cash, travel, gift cards, and more.

Drawbacks: The card’s APR is fairly high right out of the gate.

How to Choose a Card for Your Mobile Wallet

Linking a credit card to your mobile wallet offers a few distinct advantages. You can potentially earn credit card rewards, including cash back or travel points, as you spend with your mobile wallet. The service is newer, however, and merchants and banks may not be as familiar with issues around mobile wallets compared to a traditional card. Before you make the move to a mobile wallet, take note of whether your preferred stores and restaurants accept this form of payment.

Not all cards are currently compatible with all mobile wallets, either. When evaluating a credit card, make sure to check that it works with your mobile wallet of choice.

You don’t have to pick a credit card that has special cash-back incentives for mobile wallets. Many credit cards will automatically earn rewards if you tie them to your mobile wallet. Just make sure to check with the credit card issuer that its rewards programs support mobile wallet purchases.

Beyond that, you should choose a card that rewards the way you tend to spend and provides redemption options that you’ll actually use.

What Credit Is Required for a Mobile Wallet Credit Card?

Most major credit card issuers can link their cards to at least some mobile wallet types, so the credit required for a mobile wallet credit card can vary. But if you’re looking for a card that earns cash back or points rewards, you’re likely going to need good to excellent credit. Before you apply, you can check two of your credit scores free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: iStockphoto.com

The post 3 Credit Cards That Offer Special Incentives for Mobile Wallets appeared first on Credit.com.