Scams occur all the time, unfortunately. Estimates are that one out of 10 adults get scammed per year, and millions of children have identities and information stolen every year as well. In this social age, with conversations and transactions happening online, scams are far easier now.
If you pay any attention online, you may see that Zelle, a banking app, tends to pop up often for scams and warnings, as well as seeming to be a popular method of payment of course. But what makes Zelle so prone to scams versus other money-transferring apps? Let’s take a look.
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What Is Zelle
Zelle is a money-moving app, created by a network of banks. It works by allowing you to send money to anyone directly from your bank. There is an app for Zelle directly, but it is also often integrated into many banking sites to allow you to switch money around.
The benefit of Zelle is that money is moved directly from one bank account to another, usually almost instantly. Other apps like Venmo and Paypal send it from one person on the platform to another, and they can choose to keep it there or move it over to their bank account. However, that isn’t an option with Zelle.
Why Is the Platform Full of Scams?
While Zelle can be a convenient app, and may seem more trustworthy because it is built into a banking platform, the convenience that it provides also makes it more open to scams. Since there are no middlemen or hold times for your money, once you send it out, it is gone. If you make a mistake on the destination address, it will not be reimbursed to you – because you are responsible for approving the sender’s information. And if the address is a fake one, even if you request an investigation because you think it was malicious, the bank account is often closed or emptied – and your bank will not reimburse you.
So, when you are trying to purchase something online, or sometimes even trying to sell something, using Zelle can be a dangerous option. You have no protection for your money. So if the product you bought wasn’t real, or didn’t come as intended, you can’t file for chargebacks like you can with other platforms like Venmo or Paypal.
Some Common Zelle Scams
One of the first ways to protect yourself from getting scammed on Zelle is to understand what kinds of scams there are out there. That way, you can start to tell when something is suspicious, or that you may be being scammed.
Unfortunately, the scams that occur with Zelle scams are the most effective kind and seem to be the least problematic. When you think of scams, you may think that hacking is the biggest problem. In reality, the most common kinds of scams are social engineering scams.
This is when people directly talk to those they are wanting to scam and use emotions to get the information they need. There are several ways this can be done and they are incredibly effective.
The first is by a person pretending to be someone of authority. They may send you an email or text, or even try to call you, claiming to be your bank and that you have to log in to stop money from being moved out. If you use the links provided, often, they are fake websites or websites with code that allows them to gather your password and other private information.
They may even pretend to be from Zelle as well, going so far as to spoof the number so that you think you are being called by the legitimate entity. These scammers will then walk you through how to send them money, under the guise of helping you stop a transfer.
They may also pretend to be someone from the government. In these cases, they often tell you that you are missing a payment on something or owe money to a big, scary entity and you have to send it via Zelle. A common one is claiming to be the IRS and that you are behind on paying your taxes.
There are also scams from people pretending to buy and sell items, such as on Facebook Marketplace. They may say they can only receive payment through Zelle, and then end up scamming you to get your money while not actually even having a product to give you.
They may also make the process to send you money complicated, creating fake emails and having you do extra steps, pretending that this is normal for the apps. This is most common with people who have never used Zelle before.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re wondering how to avoid being scammed. The first is to avoid using platforms like Zelle, unless you can verify the recipient. While this is the most drastic option, it is also the most effective. This means you may have to start carrying cash with you to pay back friends and family, and avoid transferring money to people online. You can also choose to just not use these platforms to pay anyone you don’t know.
While it can be a pain to go through the effort of getting cash, it might just make sense to do so; thankfully it’s easy to get cash using a New Orleans car service to get you to the bank directly so you can pull out the money you need, and then you don’t even have to worry about driving yourself.
Of course, this method isn’t practical for everyone. Other options are to avoid responding to any text messages or emails that offer or request information unprompted. If you are ever worried about a text or email you received, call your bank directly from a phone number that you find from the company website, and not the number provided by the message.
You will also want to pay attention to how the other person is acting during the process of giving or receiving money. If they are rushing you, telling you something is urgent or must be done immediately, then it is also likely a scam. They are trying to panic you, and reduce your ability to think clearly. When you feel stressed or on a deadline, you tend to overlook obvious mistakes.