Is it safe to email last 4 digits of SSN?

Why does Venmo Need my SSN?

Venmo is a money transfer service that is regulated by the US treasury department. Venmo needs your SSN as a part of the information it is required to collect to verify the identity of its users, in compliance with the FDIC rules. 

In fact, the Venmo website specifically mentions the following events which can trigger Venmo to verify your identity by sharing your SSN details. 

So if you do any of the following transactions on Venmo, don’t be surprised if it’s asking for your SSN:

  • Send $300 or more in one week (rolling 7 day period)
  • Transfer $1000 or more to your bank in one week
  • Create a group account
  • Process more than 200 transactions in a calendar year as a sole proprietor with a business profile

Do note that the Venmo app is owned by Paypal and generally won’t ask for any information unless required.

So when you see a message from Venmo asking you to provide your SSN, know that it is not a random request.

But make sure the request is indeed from Venmo.

As a thumb rule- Go to the Venmo app directly to update your SSN rather than going through any email link.

Checks to see if the request for SSN is Legitimate and Coming from Venmo

Make sure you can verify the message is genuine and coming from Venmo, especially if such a message appears on email. Do check the email id to verify it is genuine. There are always scamsters who are looking to take advantage of vulnerable users. It is better to update this information directly on the Venmo app rather than going through any email link.

If you have done any of the transactions mentioned in the previous section, it is probably an event that triggered the ask from Venmo for your SSN.

Venmo will usually have these checks configured in its app, as a part of its system measures to be compliant.

Also, note that Venmo’s request for your SSN is a one-time security check. You don’t need to do this multiple times if you have completed the identity verification once.

Venmo verifies your identity by using the National Database to find a positive match of legal name, address, date of birth, and SSN/ITIN.

Also Read: How to Add Money to Venmo [All Ways and Steps Explained]

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Is it safe to send my SSN over email?

Never type your SSN into an email or instant message and send it. The majority of such messages can be intercepted and read. Also, don’t leave a voicemail that includes your SSN. If you need to contact someone and give them your number, it’s best to do it in person.

Is it Safe to Share your SSN on Venmo? How does Venmo Protect your Personal Information?

Any personal information that you share with Venmo is required to be stored and protected by Venmo, as per its privacy policy. The safety of any information is however not guaranteed and always dependent on the service provider and user.

It is natural when you are sharing personal information like SSN with Venmo to wonder if it is a safe thing to do. The question always comes to your mind like “Is it safe to share your SSN with Venmo”.

You should obviously have some idea of how the information is going to be handled and protected by Venmo. 

I went through Venmo’s privacy policy on its website which mentions how they handle the personal information shared by its users. Here is a relevant extract from Venmo’s privacy policy:

“We store and process your personal information using third-party servers located in data centers in the United States. This information is protected by physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards in compliance with applicable US federal and state regulations. We also use computer safeguards such as firewalls and data encryption, we enforce physical access controls to our office and files, and we authorize access to personal information only for those employees who require it to fulfill their job responsibilities.

We strive to ensure security on our systems. Despite our efforts, we cannot guarantee that personal information may not be accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed by breach of our administrative, managerial and technical safeguards. Therefore, we urge you to take adequate precautions to protect your personal data as well, including never sharing your Venmo password with anyone.”

So while Venmo has its own checks and balances to protect your personal information, there is no foolproof way to protect your data. Venmo has a legitimate need to ask for your personal information to comply with the rules. But you should also take the necessary steps to give information only when necessary and use Venmo safely.

Also Read: How Cash Out Venmo [Guide with all steps]

What Do Social Security Numbers Mean?

As mentioned above, a social security number isn’t really generated at random. There are three groups of numbers that all have different meanings.

  1. The first three numbers are referred to as the “area number.” These are assigned based on the geographic region where the card was first applied for. 
  2. The next two numbers in the middle are the “group number.” You’ll see these ranging from 01 to 99 and are simply used to divide all SSNs with the same area number into smaller blocks, which makes administration easier.
  3. Finally, the last four numbers form together to comprise the “serial number.” This is more specific as it ranges from 0001 to 9999. And, unlike the previous two groups of numbers, these numbers actually are quite unique and random.

Now, you might think, “Well, with that many complexities, it’d be hard for someone to steal my identity with just the last four digits of my SSN.” Right? It might seem that way. However, taking into account recent technological advances, scammers and hackers have made their way to the scene who can use different strategies to extract the last 4 digits of your SSN and thus steal your identity. 

With this valuable information, they can steal your money, take away acquired benefits, create credit card accounts, and last but not least use your name for illegal transactions and acts. We definitely don’t want that to happen!

How to Provide Your SSN to Venmo

It is not weird for payment apps to ask for the legal name, SSN, and other information of their users.

For instance, Cash App, PayPal, and Robinhood Need Your SSN for identity verification purposes.

Like it happens on Cash App and Robinhood, you must confirm your personal information in order to use all services and make transactions on your Venmo account – there’s no way around it.

But, how do you do it?

When Will Venmo Ask You for Your SSN?

There are Venmo limits per day that can only be removed if you verify your identity.

Thus, if you don’t use your Venmo balance on the app frequently, then the platform might not even request you to verify your SSN.

On the other hand, the following factors will trigger immediate on-screen prompts so you verify your identity as soon as possible:

  • You have sent more than $300 during one week;
  • Create a group account process;
  • Have a transaction pattern of more than 200 transactions as a sole proprietor in a calendar year while having a business profile.

Step 1: Go to Settings on Your Venmo Account

So, if Venmo has asked you to verify your identity, first log in and go to settings.

Before proceeding, keep in mind that this can only be done from the Venmo app and not the website.

Since Venmo is a mobile-first platform, then you shouldn’t have major problems when trying to log in using your phone.

Step 2: Complete Identity Verification

In the settings menu, look for the option to complete your verification process.

There, the platform will request the SSN linked to your Venmo account.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a random process.

If Venmo has selected your account for SSN verification purposes, then it’s imperative to complete it once you have a chance.

Likewise, the platform will most likely ask you to update other information if needed.

Hence, even if you have already completed verification, this will be necessary once again so you can use your money efficiently.

Steps to Take If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

The Social Security Administration publishes a useful booklet called "Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number." In addition to basic protection tips, it provides information about what you should do if you believe your identity and SSN have been stolen or compromised.

The Social Security Administration closed all of its offices for in-person services in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its online services, however, remain available.

1. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA)

The easiest way to contact Social Security is online (see above). SSA also has a national toll-free phone number, 800-772-1213.

2. Contact Medicare if Your MBI Has Been Stolen

Although Medicare has stopped using SSNs and replaced them with a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), it is also subject to theft and can be used to commit Medicare fraud. If you have an MBI and believe it has been compromised, contact Medicare for guidance.

3. Request a Review of Your Social Security Earnings

On rare occasions, more than one person may use the same SSN accidentally through a typo or misremembering when filling out paperwork. This can also happen on purpose if someone uses your number to get a job. Contact Social Security to request an earnings review (or do it yourself with an online account).

4. Check Employer Verifications at My E-Verify

You can also check for the names of employers who have verified your eligibility to work in the U.S. if they went through the Department of Homeland Security E-Verify system. To do that, go to the myE-Verify webpage. If you see an employer whose name you do not recognize, someone else may be using your number to work in the U.S. The site also has a self-lock feature that lets you place a lock on your SSN.

5. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to Get a Recovery Plan

You can visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and, more importantly, set up a recovery plan, or you can call 877-438-4338 (877-IDTHEFT) to do so. Both will guide you through a process that includes:

  1. Calling companies where you suspect fraud has occurred
  2. Placing a fraud alert and obtaining your credit reports
  3. Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
  4. Filing a report with your local police department (optional)

6. Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

You may also want to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you suspect an identity thief has filed a tax return in your name to get a refund. The IRS should also be on your list of contacts if you suspect someone is using your number for work purposes. Otherwise, the IRS could think you failed to report income when you file your own tax return. Use the IRS Identity Theft Central website or call 800-908-4490.

7. File an Online Complaint With the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides a convenient avenue to report suspected criminal or illegal civil acts at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Once you report a crime, the site then alerts appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agencies that would have jurisdiction over the matter.

8. Apply for a New SSN as a Last Resort

If you believe you’ve done everything you can and someone is still using your SSN, you may need to request a new number from the SSA. If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or immigration status. You will also need to provide evidence that someone is using your old number. The SSA booklet “Your Social Security Number and Card” explains the application process.

Bear in mind that a new SSN may not solve all your problems. Think about all the government agencies, banks, credit reporting companies, and others that already have and use your old number.

Once you receive a new SSN, do not use your old number again. Make sure your new number is reported to all agencies that will need it and that those agencies know you no longer use your old number.

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