Why You Shouldn't Pay for Anything With Zelle

We tend to think that scams happen to other people and that we’re too smart to fall for them, but we all have vulnerable moments when we can slip — it just takes the right message, item, or time. Lately, Zelle scams on on the rise. A common tactic is sending you a text in the format most banks use: "Did you attempt a Zelle transfer for $500 on 10-7-2022? Reply YES or NO. To opt out of fraud alert, text reply STOP.” If you just happened to have sent money that day, the message can sound legitimate, and if you interact with the message, they’ll contact you to verify your personal information. That’s the part that’s tricking many people into revealing their username or password. Once the scammers have that, they’ll drain your account. Another scam is selling an item online on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. In these cases, the seller only accepts payment by Zelle. Since Zelle is meant to send money quickly to friends and family — personal transfers instead of sales transactions — there’s absolutely no protection like you would get from credit cards or PayPal. You can’t call Zelle or your bank and explain that you want your money back. So, what do you do? If you get a text or call from “your bank,” be skeptical. Know that your bank will never call you and ask you for personal information over the phone. They already have it. Hang up or ignore the text message and call the bank’s official number. Check to see if what you received is really from them. If you want to buy from an online market, don’t buy from anyone who only accepts Zelle. There’s a 99.9% chance it’s a scam. Ask to use other services like PayPal, where both your money and the seller’s item are protected by PayPal’s third-party money transfer service. There’s a small fee to pay, but it’s worth it.