With the rise of money-transfer apps like Venmo, it’s never been easier for you to send money to your friends. It’s also never been easier to accidentally send money to a total stranger.
And while Venmo takes certain preventive measures on its end to ensure you’re sending your hard-earned dollars to the right person, its digital financial system — like most — has its risks.
You’ll receive a “Woah there, are you ABSOLUTELY sure?” notice when paying someone you don’t share friends with. But if you have a whopping one mutual contact, Venmo throws its hands up and assumes you know what you’re doing. Well, Venmo, you fail to account for the very common circumstance that is accidentally sending a payment to stranger you happen to have mutual social media connections with.
Recently, I went to Venmo a friend for covering a lunch bill when I was short. I searched their full name on Venmo, confident the number of mutual friends listed next to the first result handle meant I had the correct user, and sent the payment. When they asked me to Venmo them the next day, I returned to my Venmo transaction history where it shows I did, in fact, pay someone with their name; and who I did, in fact, have mutual friends with. But it was not the person who paid for my burger.
Shame on me not confirming my friend’s handle before paying them, but I knew I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last Venmo user to face this problem. I learned how to resolve it both so I could get my money back and so that I could share what to do when you make the same mistake I did.
When you find yourself in this situation, your first reaction may be tot call Venmo support, where they’ll hesitate to help you if you’re not prepared. If you check the Venmo FAQs, they give off an anxiety-inducing “what’s done can’t be undone,” vibe. But have no fear, here are your options for fixing a Venmo payment to the wrong person.
Option 1: Request your money back
Upon realizing you paid the wrong user, request a payment for the exact amount you sent them. In the “What’s it for?” note, admit your error. Add a please or three in there, too. Hopefully they’ll return your payment in a timely manner for the sake of moral decency; but if they haven’t accepted or denied your request after several hours, try reminding them. You can only use the remind feature once per request, so after a day with no response, you might want to cancel the request altogether and send a new one.
If you have mutual friends with the user, you should also have some luck finding them on Facebook or Instagram. You can attempt to reach them on those platforms in case they have Venmo notifications turned off.
Option 2: Call Venmo customer service (1-855-812-4430)
If option 1 failed, it’s time to get Venmo customer support involved. They’re not going to let you just ask for money returned, though — they don’t want you cheating your way out of payments by undoing them. You’re going to need to provide your account information, as well as the account information (handle and connected email address) for the person you meant to Venmo.
If customer service is able to verify your provided information, they’ll email the user you accidentally paid, giving them 48 hours to complete your request before automatically sending the funds from their account back to yours.
As always, be patient and kind with the customer support representative. They have 40 million users to manage. Be grateful they’re helping you fix a mistake you made AND getting your money back.
Just under 48 hours after calling Venmo support, I received a notification that the stranger had fulfilled my $15 request. So there you have it, internet, good people do exist.