Your social security number is the single most important number in anyone’s life. It’s kept secret from those we don’t trust to protect us from identity theft and a litany of other felonies. Often, though, we’re asked to give it out.
Today, I’ll explore why Venmo needs your SSN.
Why does Venmo need your SSN? Venmo needs a SSN because it is regulated by the federal government and is required by the US Patriot Act to perform a one-time identity check on some customers. Venmo uses your SSN for the identity check.
Not everyone is asked, and a lot of Venmo users can confirm their identity simply with a credit or debit card.
Venmo is a payment app that simplifies payments between friends, family and even payments to businesses that are set up. Cash App, Zelle and Apple Pay are all other types of payment apps with similar features as Venmo.
This blog will explain why Venmo necessarily sometimes must ask for your SSN, if it can be trusted and what to do if you still feel uneasy about this.
Table of Contents
Why Does Venmo Need SSN?
The proper question is not why Venmo needs SSN but why do all cash apps ask for it? This is certainly not the exception in the industry, it’s a standard. Venmo needs your social insurance number in order to protect both itself and you from scams and fraud so that its platform remains safe and scandal-free.
The reason it throws so many users is twofold: it doesn’t happen to everyone, and it appears to happen randomly. Anyone over 18 can get a Venmo card, though you shouldn’t feel singled out if they ask for further identification. Venmo asking for your social security number is not as random as it may feel. If they’re asking for it, you’ve done something to trigger their system.
Venmo asks for your social security number if you’ve done any of these actions:
- Sent $300 or over in a seven-day period.
- Transferred $1000 or more to your bank in a seven-day period.
- Created a group account.
Is It Safe to Give Venmo My SSN?
Often, it’s assumed that Venmo’s simplicity makes a security check involving your SSN necessary. Sending money so instantly seems like it must have a catch.
It’s not the swiftness with which one can send money to their financial institution that sets off the SSN check, however.
Venmo is a company that is regulated by the Federal Treasury Department. This has benefits, but the government is also going to want to keep tabs on who is transferring funds and other details. If they are looking, it’s often a matter of National Security.
Naturally, when someone opens up a financial services account, some kind of identification is necessary.
Very technically speaking, however, this information can be used by Venmo for illegal purposes. Though there’s no real benefit for the company to behave this way. Unless they’re looking to be shut down or their CEOs land in prison, there’s no real risk of that happening.
Still, one should be careful to ensure that it actually is Venmo asking for your social security number. Internet scams, phony sites and emails with ransomware links. If Venmo asks for your social security number, remember that you’ve done something to trigger it. If you know or even think you haven’t, it’s best to confirm with them.
If the email that is asking for your social security number says it’s from Venmo but comes from an untraceable email, it is most definitely an attempted scam.
Can I Use Venmo Without An SSN?
Fortunately, social security numbers are not the only way to confirm your identity. If you never exceed the limits that trigger an identity check or create a group account, often all that’s required is a debit or credit card, though sometimes other forms can be used.
Forms such as your driver’s license, tax ID, passport. A DHS card or tribal card can also be used to confirm your identity. There are, however, obviously some limitations on what you’re capable of doing on Venmo without a social security number.
First, not being able to complete identity verification means that the limit of what you can send and receive is much more regulated.
You also won’t be able to order a Venmo card, one of their most attractive features.
Venmo even noted that people being afraid that they were attempting to scam them had a note of irony behind it. The reason Venmo is asking for your SSN at all is to prevent the very scams of which you may assume they are guilty.
Sharing your SSN with Venmo is perfectly safe, but it’s also understandable why so many people at first feel so uneasy about it. Giving out any information online is always associated with a dozen or more risks such as phishing, ransomware and plain old-fashioned identity theft.
If Venmo asks for your SSN, you’ve done something to trigger the identity check. If you haven’t, it’s probably an attempted scam that you should block and ignore.