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Unraveling the Web of Zelle® Scams

Unraveling the Web of Zelle® Scams

Technology has woven itself into the fabric of our daily lives, and financial transactions have undergone a transformative shift. One such advancement is the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms like Zelle®, which offer convenient and instantaneous money transfers. However, with these advantages come potential risks, as scammers continuously adapt their techniques to exploit unsuspecting individuals. Unfortunately, Zelle® has become a prime target for fraudsters. To help you stay one step ahead, let’s explore the warning signs of current Zelle® scams and the practical measures you can take to safeguard your financial well-being. 

Understanding Zelle® Scams

Zelle® offers a swift and easy way to send money to friends, family, or others without needing cash or checks. Unfortunately, scammers have discovered creative ways to exploit this platform for illicit gains. They often prey on victims’ trust and lack of awareness, employing various tactics to deceive and defraud innocent users.

Beware of the Latest Zelle® Scams

News outlets recently reported the latest scam, in which a crook poses as Bank of America to steal from an unsuspecting Zelle® user. A recent scam began with a text asking the Zelle® user if she charged something at a Walmart. When she replied no, her phone rang. The person on the other end identified themselves as someone from the Bank of America fraud department. He explained that someone was using Zelle® to withdraw money from her account. 

The fraudster brought up a couple of suspicious transfers and told the victim that she had to send the money back to herself through Zelle® immediately. She followed the instructions but was actually sending the money directly to the scammer. He told the victim she would be getting a fraud alert from Bank of America but to ignore it. After this recent scam, Bank of America began alerting customers, stating they “will never ask a client to send money to themselves or anyone else.” 

6 Common Zelle® Scams

  1. Transfer Money to Yourself Scams: As outlined above, scammers use ID spoofing to disguise themselves as trusted financial institutions. They inform victims that a thief has transferred their money. To retrieve it back, they must Zelle® themselves the money. In actuality, they are sending their money to the scammer.
  2.  Purchase Scams: Scammers posing as sellers on online marketplaces convince buyers to use Zelle® for payment, promising attractive deals. The scammer disappears once the payment is made, leaving the victim with empty pockets and no recourse.
  3.  Rental Scams: Fake landlords use Zelle® to collect deposits or rent for properties that don’t actually exist. Victims are left homeless and financially devastated after realizing they’ve fallen for an elaborate ruse.
  4.  Romance Scams: Fraudsters exploit emotions, creating fake romantic relationships online and requesting money through Zelle for various fabricated reasons. Victims often send money willingly, believing they are helping a loved one in need.
  5.  Tech Support Scams: Scammers impersonating tech support representatives contact individuals claiming their devices are compromised. They convince victims to pay for fake repairs or security services via Zelle®, leaving them with compromised bank and credit union accounts instead.
  6.  Employment Scams: Fraudulent job postings promise high-paying positions and request personal information, including Zelle® details, under the guise of setting up direct deposits. Instead, victims’ funds are drained by scammers.

Protecting Yourself from Zelle® Scams

  • Verify Before You Pay: Always verify the identity of the person or business you’re dealing with. Double-check contact details, research their online presence, and, if applicable, cross-reference rental properties with legitimate listings. Remember that a tiny typo could send your funds to the wrong person.
  •  Exercise Caution Online: Be wary of unsolicited requests for financial transactions, especially if they demand urgency or confidentiality. Legitimate businesses and individuals won’t pressure you into hasty decisions. 
  •  Use Trusted Networks: Avoid conducting Zelle® transactions over public Wi-Fi networks, as they are more susceptible to hacking and intercepting sensitive data.
  •  Secure Your Accounts: Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your online banking and payment platforms, adding an extra layer of security beyond passwords.
  •  Keep Personal Information Private: Never share sensitive personal or financial information over email, phone calls, or social media. Scammers often use this data to manipulate victims.
  •  Use Official Contacts: As mentioned above, if you receive communication claiming to be from your credit union, bank, or another financial institution, use official contact information to verify its authenticity. Refrain from relying on contact details provided in a suspicious message.
  •  Trust Your Instincts: Don’t let pressure cloud your judgment. If something seems suspicious, slow down and take the time to protect yourself.

When Used Carefully, Zelle® is a Great Tool for Sending and Receiving Money

Zelle® is a fast and easy way to send money to friends and family. Staying vigilant is your best defense against Zelle® scams. By recognizing the warning signs and adopting proactive security measures, you can protect yourself from falling victim to fraudsters. Remember, your financial well-being is worth the extra caution and effort.

The most common scams will target victims through fake text messages, emails, or calls. The best way to protect yourself is to refrain from responding to a text message or a phone call that seems to be from your bank, credit union, or another financial institution. Instead, contact the financial institution directly through a trusted form of contact to see if you are being scammed. 

Choice One Community Credit Union will never contact you asking you to verify your account security information or to use Zelle® to transfer yourself funds. If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as a Choice One employee, ignore the message or hang up immediately. When in doubt, contact Choice One directly to confirm. Do not rely on any contact information provided in a potentially fraudulent message.

Tap to learn more about Zelle® at Choice One Community Credit Union.

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