10 Zelle Scams to Watch Out For
By: Kevin Ocasio of Small Business Trends
In the age of online banking and money transfer apps like Zelle, it’s important to be aware of potential scams. This article will outline 10 common scams to watch out for when using Zelle to send money. By being vigilant and knowing the warning signs, you can protect yourself and your finances. Let’s get started!
Can You Get Scammed Using Zelle to Transfer Money?
It is possible to get scammed using Zelle to transfer money, especially if the transaction involves a large sum of money. However, it is important to note that credit unions typically offer protection for their members in these situations.
It is also advisable to only use Zelle for smaller transactions, such as a few hundred dollars, to minimize the risk of losing a significant amount of money in the event of a scam.
- READ MORE: Zelle Forecasted to Soon Be Most Popular P2P Payments App, But Can It Help Your Business?
Be Aware of These Most Common Zelle Pay Scams
When using payment apps like Zelle, it’s important to be aware of the most common scams. Here are the first five Zelle pay scams from our list to watch out for:
1. Scammer Impersonating Financial Institution
Scammers impersonating banks like Bank of America, PNC Bank, and other financial institutions are increasingly common. They will typically send an email or text message that looks like it’s from Bank of America (or other financial institutions) asking you to click on a link to update your account information.
The link will then take you to a fake website that looks like the real thing but is actually designed to steal your login credentials.
2. Facebook Marketplace Zelle Scam
The Better Business Bureau recently issued a scam alert for this one. This Zelle scam occurs when someone uses Zelle to pay for an item they found on Facebook Marketplace.
The problem is that the item never arrives, and the person who paid is out of luck. To avoid this, only use Zelle to pay for items that you can pick up in person and inspect before paying.
3. Zelle Email Scams
There have been reports of scammers sending emails that look like they’re from Zelle, asking people to click on a link to update their account information.
Once they click the link, they’re taken to a fake website that looks like the real thing, where they’re asked to enter their personal and financial information.
4. Zelle Business Accounts Scams
If you use Zelle to send or receive payments for your small business, be aware that there are scammers who will try to target you. They scam businesses by either overcharging for services or products or by not delivering the goods or services that were paid for.
5. Phishing Scam
A Zelle phishing scam is intended to trick you into giving away your personal and financial information. This type of scam typically comes in the form of an email or text message.
The scammer will pose as Zelle and try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. If you do, you’ll be taken to a fake website or your computer will download malware that can steal your information.
More Zelle Scams to Access Your Bank or Credit Union
Here are the next five common Zelle scams to watch out for to help keep your bank accounts safe:
6. Zelle Impersonation Scam
For the Zelle impersonation scam, the scammer will pretend to be a family member or friend who needs money urgently.
They’ll ask you to send them money using Zelle and promise to pay you back later. However, once they have your money, they disappear and you never hear from them again.
7. Fake Invoice Scam
With the fake invoice scam, the scammer will send you an invoice for goods or services that you didn’t order.
They’ll ask you to pay using Zelle, and once you do, they’ll disappear with your money. To avoid this, only pay invoices using Zelle if you’re confident that you actually ordered the goods or services in question.
8. Zelle Romance Scam
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that “people sent $547 million to online romance scammers” in 2021, which brought the total over the past five years to $1.3 billion. More people have been scammed by “Catfishing” than by any other FTC scam category.
9. Fake Lottery Scam
For the fake lottery scam, the scammer will tell you that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes. They’ll say that to collect your winnings, you need to click on a link and enter your personal and financial information. Or, they’ll ask you to pay a fee using Zelle. Once you do, they’ll take your money, never to be heard from again.
10. Debt Collection Scam
The debt collection scam is similar to the fake invoice scam, except that the scammer will claim to be a debt collector. They’ll say that you owe them money and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay using Zelle. Once you do, they’ll disappear with your money.
How to Avoid a Zelle Scam
Zelle is still fairly new having been created in 2017 by Early Warning Services (EWS). While you can’t completely avoid being scammed, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances. Let’s quickly look at five tips to avoid being scammed…
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. This should go without saying, but it’s worth repeating. If you don’t know the person, don’t send them money.
- Only use Zelle to send money to people you know and trust. This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. If you don’t know the person, don’t send them money.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for money. If someone you don’t know asks you to send them money via Zelle, be suspicious. It’s probably a scam.
- Don’t click on links or open attachments. This is a common phishing scam tactic. The sender will pose as Zelle and try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t fall for it!
- Monitor your bank accounts. Be sure to regularly check your bank statements for unauthorized transactions. If you see something, report it to your bank immediately.
Will Zelle Refund Money If You’re Scammed?
According to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, consumers have the right to dispute unauthorized transfers and can potentially receive a refund for any funds lost due to fraud or deception. Zelle, as an institution facilitating financial electronic transfers, is required to provide this protection and may issue a refund if a customer is a victim of a scam.
Can Someone Hack Your Zelle Account with Your Phone Number?
It is possible for someone to hack into a Zelle account using just a phone number. This is because the phone number is used as a form of identification and verification when sending and receiving money through the platform.
If a hacker were able to access the account holder’s phone or somehow gain access to their cell phone number, they could potentially log in and transfer funds without the account holder’s knowledge or consent. If you fall prey to a Zelle scam, immediately notify your bank of any fraudulent transactions or unapproved Zelle payments sent.
Can a Scammer Access Your Bank Account Through Zelle?
No, a scammer cannot access your bank account through Zelle. However, it is important to be aware of potential scams and always exercise caution when using any digital payment platform like Zelle or Cash App so you don’t lose money. It is recommended to report any suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions to your financial institution or credit union immediately.