How Do Zelle Scams Work and Things to Look Out For

Zelle scams are tricks designed to take control of your Zelle money transfer account or to get you to send money to an attacker's account without realizing it. Zelle fraud is highly effective because Zelle transfers are instant and can't be reversed. Learning about the common Zelle scams and how to avoid them is an excellent way to begin protecting yourself from these increasingly common attacks.

What are Zelle Scams

If you're familiar with the money transfer solution Zelle, you'll know how convenient it is to use to move money from one location to another. Zelle scams take advantage of how rapidly money can be moved using the service. These scams are conducted through text messages, email, and over the phone. Scammers will attempt to convince you that you're talking with Zelle representatives or that they are doing you a favor in some way while actually taking money from you in many different ways.

zelle scams

Common Zelle Scams to Look Out For

Scams with Zelle are becoming increasingly common. If you use Zelle, you are at risk of losing your money if you aren't careful. Learn about the most common Zelle email scams, as well as scams over text and phone, so you know how to avoid them.

Money Mule Scams

One of the most common Zelle fraud attacks used today is known as a Money Mule scam. In this scam, the attacker tells the victim they have qualified for a high-paying work-from-home job. They're going to earn loads of money with a simple job. To get started with the job, they'll have to pay for some starting equipment by transferring money. They will be asked for their Zelle account information or asked to make a one-time transfer to get the tools they need to start working.

Money Mule scams are never legitimate, and fortunately, they are easy to detect. If anyone ever asks you to pay money to start working, you should immediately see that as a scam. You will never have to pay for your own equipment to do a job. Don't give away your Zelle account information, and if you receive one of these emails, you should report it to the authorities and avoid giving any details about yourself away.

Zelle Transfers to Yourself

While many Zelle scams use email, this one is often conducted over the phone. The scammer will call his victim and explain that a recent Zelle transaction has been completed from the account for $500, $700, or any other random amount of money. The attacker asks you if you authorized the transaction, and when you say no, they move on to phase 2 of the attack.

The attacker then says, your account is being drained by a hacker, and you need to move your money to safety. They created a new Zelle account using the victim's name but their phone number. They ask you to send a Zelle transfer to an account with your name on it so you feel like you're sending money to yourself. What you don't realize is that you're sending money straight to the attacker. In an effort to get you to protect all your funds, you're asked to send all your money over. When you do this, you're giving all your funds to a hacker, and you won't get them back!

Zelle will never ask you to transfer money to yourself, and you should always pay close attention to the phone number associated with any Zelle account you use. If the phone number isn't the same as yours, it isn't your account. Never give away Zelle details, and never initiate Zelle transfers to someone you don't know.

Account Upgrade Scams

Many people are dealing with Facebook marketplace Zelle scams like the account upgrade scam that is currently going around. In this scam, the attacker looks for people selling expensive items on the Facebook marketplace. They state they want to buy your item and that they will pay using Zelle.

The attacker then creates a fake email confirmation that says they paid you for the item. They spoof the email, so it looks as if it's coming from Zelle. The attacker then sends a follow-up email explaining that you can't collect the payment money from the user because they are using a Zelle business account and you don't have a Zelle business account. To upgrade the account, you must spend around $300. These Zelle business account scams are convincing and highly effective.

The buyer says they will send an extra $300 to you to help you cover the cost of the upgrade if you're willing to refund them the money after. They then send you a fake email confirmation showing the extra Zelle transfer to your account, you refund them the money, and you lose out on the refund money without ever getting anything from the attacker.

Impersonators of Banks

One of the most effective types of Zelle scams is a bank impersonator scam. In these scams, an impersonator sends a very convincing text message asking you if you authorized a large payment to a randomly named person or business. The text gives you fixed response options that make you feel like you're receiving an automated alert.

When you reply to the text or you click a link provided in the message, you will be called by the scammer. If you aren't sure about a phone number, you can use this phone lookup service to verify a contact is who they claim to be before doing anything else. During the call, the bank impersonator will try and convince you that your account is compromised in some way and try to get you to transfer money to a spoofed Zelle account with your name on it. This account is owned by the attacker, and you'll lose any money you send to it.

Account Takeovers

Account takeovers are common Zelle scams by email, but they can also be conducted via text message. With these attacks, the hacker will send a fake email or text message that's meant to look official, like it's from Zelle. The message explains that your account has been breached and that you must reset your account password to protect it. You get a link to select and are taken to an official-looking website where you're asked to reset your password.

While attempting to reset your password, you'll be asked for the old password and your username. What you're actually doing instead of resetting your password is giving away your Zelle credentials to an attacker. The attacker will take your information, access your Zelle account, and change the password and the email associated with the account as fast as possible. Once your account is taken, the hacker can use it to make purchases, send your money to other accounts, and more.

Fake Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist Listings

Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are common and something to watch for each time you use these services. One of the most frequent scams used is the overpayment scam.

In this scam, the attacker offers to buy an item that you're selling and sends you a check for the item that exceeds the purchase price you're asking for. Often the check is larger by a few hundred dollars. The buyer asks you to deposit the check and quickly send them the overage amount through Zelle.

The check you deposited is a fake, and while the bank is verifying whether the check is real or not, you're being asked to give away your money instantly. This is a quick way to lose your money, but it's only a problem for people that agree to send money back to the buyer, which makes it a lower-risk scam than some of the others here.

How to Avoid Them

Zelle may be a free and nearly instant payment method that's useful for moving money around, but Zelle Scams could cost you big time if you aren't careful. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid entering your Zelle login credentials on anything but the official app or the official Zelle website. Never attempt to send money to yourself using Zelle, and send a small test amount to the person you're trying to reach before sending the full amount to verify it's going where it needs to.

You should also take the time to establish 2-factor authentication protection on your Zelle account. Having this protection in place will make it nearly impossible for an attacker to access your account without you allowing it.

Many Zelle attacks are conducted via email using phishing scams. You should learn how to avoid these scams at all costs in order to protect yourself effectively. Learn more about phishing scams, and you'll know just how to protect yourself from many internet attacks. You can also use this email lookup service to verify an email address is legitimate before you do business with it.

Keep Yourself Safe by Learning to Detect Zelle Scams

Zelle Scams are becoming more common each year. If you have a Zelle account you must take care to protect it effectively. Learning about the common scams is an excellent way to protect yourself, but you can arm yourself with help from RecordsFinder to verify people, businesses, email addresses, and more and avoid ever getting scammed again.