Zelle is the latest tech to be targeted by scammers. As with anything that is widely used, scammers have latched onto the tech and are targeting consumers. Here’s what you should know.
Zelle is a popular person-to-person payment service because it has the backing of major banks and hundreds of credit unions. It works similar to many payment apps — you log into your bank or credit union account and send money by entering the recipient’s phone number or email address.
As US News reports, a Zelle scam starts via a phone call, text or email that appears to be from your credit union or bank. The message will claim that your credit union or bank is simply trying to confirm a Zelle transfer you created. When you reply to the message disputing the bogus transfer, you’ll be directed to make a separate Zelle transfer that will return the funds back to your account. That’s where the scammers get you. The Zelle transfer will in fact send money into the scammer’s account, and because it’s authorized by you, it’s tough to get it corrected.
Banks and credit unions typically don’t offer refunds on authorized transfers, so your best defense against this scam is a good offense. That means being extra cautious every time you use Zelle. Never transfer funds to someone you don’t know. If you get a call or text asking you to verify a Zelle transfer, don’t reply to that message. Instead, call your credit union or bank on your own. Another way to protect yourself with Zelle is to transfer $1 first, then verify that transaction with the recipient. If it goes through, then you can send the rest of the money. These extra steps with Zelle can save you plenty of headaches.