If you have ever used an app for your bank, you may be familiar with Zelle. It’s become the most common way for banks to offer peer-to-peer payment, offering an alternative to the popular app Venmo. The platform makes it easy to exchange money and easy for scammers to steal it.
With Zelle, you can send money directly from your bank account to someone using just their email or cell phone number. While it’s wildly simple to use, the number of scams revolving around Zelle has significantly risen in recent years, and even more in recent months.
We have the most frequently used scams on Zelle and the red flags to watch out for so you don’t become the next victim of fraud.
Zelle payment scams
Due to the increasing number of fraudulent payments on peer-to-peer payment apps like Zelle, the company released a statement last month claiming the number of scams reported is just 0.01%.
Safe Payments: More than 99.9% of payments are sent without any report of fraud or scams.
However, according to reports nationwide, that number must be higher based on the sheer number of scams occurring on Zelle daily.
Many are concerned about the uptick in fraud while using Zelle because your account is attached to your bank account, but banks don’t want to cover the lost funds. Zelle is owned by a parent company, Early Warning Services, which is co-owned by seven popular banks:
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- JPMorgan Chase
- PNC Bank
- U.S. Bank
- Wells Fargo
Victims claim Zelle is not taking the side of the victim in these fraudulent cases, citing they sent the money on their own accord from their bank account. In order to avoid this happening to you, first watch out for these popular scams going around on Zelle.
Most common Zelle scams
Fake notice on suspended services
Victims have reported being contacted regarding overdue payments on a service such as an electric bill. You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your electric company telling you if you don’t pay immediately, your power will go off. Then you’ll be given an excuse about how they’ve had trouble with payment, so you need to use Zelle.
The major red flag here is you’ll never be contacted by these companies via phone, text, or email with a demand for payment. Major electric companies also won’t accept payment via apps like Zelle or Venmo, so be wary of anyone asking for immediate payment in that way.
Some Zelle scammers will try and convince you you’ve overpaid for an item, sometimes via an email about a product they claim you’ve purchased. This is also a common scheme while selling items on sites like Facebook Marketplace – the scammer will offer to buy something and then overpay you for it. You will then be asked to return the excess money. The problem? This money never existed – so when Zelle catches up 2-3 days later, that money will be taken from YOUR account, and the scammers will still have what you sent over.
Fake credit card linked to Zelle account
Scammers may link a fake or stolen credit card to a Zelle account, and try and complete a transaction (usually on something pricier – like a TV). You’ll accept the payment on Zelle and give them the item, but once that money or credit card is reported stolen, that money will once again be taken out of YOUR account. Now they have what you sold them, along with the money they sent you for it.
How to protect yourself against scams on Zelle
- Only interact with people you know on Zelle. Do not send or receive money from anyone you don’t know.
- Link your Zelle account to a credit card as opposed to a debit card, so you can dispute a charge from scammers more easily
- Turn on 2-factor authentication on your banking app – and NEVER give out a code texted to you in a 2FA, even if you didn’t request it.
- Get alerts from your bank via text or email so you’re aware if your account finds any suspicious activity
Protect your devices:
Suspicious apps found on Apple iPhone and Android – Delete ASAP