Much like Venmo, CashApp and other payment apps, Zelle is an easy way to send money to, and receive money from, friends, colleagues and family members. But when there is money involved, you can be sure there are people out there looking for ways to get a piece of the action.
“Pay Yourself” Scam
The scam works like this:
- You get a text that resembles a fraud alert from your bank. Often it says something like, “Did you make a purchase of $125 at Target (or some other popular merchant)?”
- If or when you respond, you will receive a phone call from a number that looks like it is from your bank.
- The person on the call will offer to help you with the alleged fraudulent activity by asking you to send money to yourself using Zelle.
- You will receive a one-time code and be asked to provide it to the person on the phone.
- Once you give them the code, they will enroll their bank account with Zelle using your email or phone number.
- Once set up, the scammer can receive your money via Zelle into their account.
Scammers are good at using our emotions, particularly fear, to convince us to make poor decisions. To remain in control, never feel pressured to act immediately – that is a sure sign of a scam. It is best to simply hang up and call your bank directly using the number on their website.
Also, don’t trust caller ID as it is relatively easy to spoof a number and make it look like a reputable one.
Finally, never share security codes or personal information with anyone on the phone, even if it seems like a trusted source.