10 Zelle Scams to Watch Out For

zelle scams

In the age of online banking and money transfer apps like Zelle, it’s important to be aware of potential scams. This article outlines 10 common scams to watch out for when using Zelle to send money. By being vigilant and knowing the warning signs, you can protect yourself and your finances from Zell Scams. Let’s get started!

Be Aware of These Most Common Zelle Pay Scams

When using payment apps like Zelle, it’s important to be aware of the most common scams. Here are the first five Zelle pay scams from our list to watch out for:

1. Scammer Impersonating Financial Institution

Scammers impersonating banks like Bank of America, PNC Bank, and other financial institutions are increasingly common. They will typically send an email or text message that looks like it’s from Bank of America (or other financial institutions) asking you to click on a link to update your account information.

The link will then take you to a fake website that looks like the real thing but is actually designed to steal your login credentials.

Zelle Scams

2. Facebook Marketplace Zelle Scam

The Better Business Bureau recently issued a scam alert for this one. This Zelle scam occurs when someone uses Zelle to pay for an item they found on Facebook Marketplace.

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The problem is that the item never arrives, and the person who paid is out of luck. To avoid this, only use Zelle to pay for items that you can pick up in person and inspect before paying.

3. Zelle Email Scams

There have been reports of scammers sending emails that look like they’re from Zelle, asking people to click on a link to update their account information.

Once they click the link, they’re taken to a fake website that looks like the real thing, where they’re asked to enter their personal and financial information.

4. Zelle Business Accounts Scams

If you use Zelle to send or receive payments for your small business, be aware that there are scammers who will try to target you. They scam businesses by either overcharging for services or products or by not delivering the goods or services that were paid for.

5. Phishing Scam

A Zelle phishing scam is intended to trick you into giving away your personal and financial information. This type of scam typically comes in the form of an email or text message.

The scammer will pose as Zelle and try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. If you do, you’ll be taken to a fake website or your computer will download malware that can steal your information.

Zelle Scams

More Zelle Scams to Access Your Bank or Credit Union

Here are the next five common Zelle scams to watch out for to help keep your bank accounts safe:

6. Zelle Impersonation Scam

For the Zelle impersonation scam, the scammer will pretend to be a family member or friend who needs money urgently.

They’ll ask you to send them money using Zelle and promise to pay you back later. However, once they have your money, they disappear and you never hear from them again.

7. Fake Invoice Scam

With the fake invoice scam, the scammer will send you an invoice for goods or services that you didn’t order.

They’ll ask you to pay using Zelle, and once you do, they’ll disappear with your money. To avoid this, only pay invoices using Zelle if you’re confident that you actually ordered the goods or services in question.

8. Zelle Romance Scam

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that “people sent $547 million to online romance scammers” in 2021, which brought the total over the past five years to $1.3 billion. More people have been scammed by “Catfishing” than by any other FTC scam category.

Zelle Scams

9. Fake Lottery Scam

For the fake lottery scam, the scammer will tell you that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes. They’ll say that to collect your winnings, you need to click on a link and enter your personal and financial information. Or, they’ll ask you to pay a fee using Zelle. Once you do, they’ll take your money, never to be heard from again.

10. Debt Collection Scam

The debt collection scam is similar to the fake invoice scam, except that the scammer will claim to be a debt collector. They’ll say that you owe them money and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay using Zelle. Once you do, they’ll disappear with your money.

How Easy Is It to Get Scammed When Using Zelle for Money Transfers?

Getting scammed while using Zelle to transfer money can vary in terms of ease, depending on several factors. Generally, the ease of falling victim to a scam through Zelle depends on the specific circumstances of the transaction, the trustworthiness of the parties involved, and the precautions taken.

In cases involving significant sums of money, the potential for scams increases, so it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of common scams. Credit unions often offer protection to their members in such situations, providing an additional layer of security.

To minimize the risk of falling victim to a scam, it is advisable to limit Zelle usage to smaller transactions, typically involving a few hundred dollars. Additionally, staying informed about potential scams and practicing safe online financial habits can further reduce the likelihood of being scammed when using Zelle for money transfers.



How to Avoid a Zelle Scam

Zelle is still fairly new having been created in 2017 by Early Warning Services (EWS). While you can’t completely avoid being scammed, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances. Let’s quickly look at five tips to avoid being scammed…

  • Never send money to someone you don’t know. This should go without saying, but it’s worth repeating. If you don’t know the person, don’t send them money.
  • Only use Zelle to send money to people you know and trust. This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. If you don’t know the person, don’t send them money.
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for money. If someone you don’t know asks you to send them money via Zelle, be suspicious. It’s probably a scam.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments. This is a common phishing scam tactic. The sender will pose as Zelle and try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t fall for it!
  • Monitor your bank accounts. Be sure to regularly check your bank statements for unauthorized transactions. If you see something, report it to your bank immediately.

Zelle Scams

Staying Informed About Zelle Security Measures

With the rise of online banking and digital payment platforms like Zelle, staying informed about security measures is crucial. While Zelle provides a convenient way to transfer money, it’s essential to be aware of potential scams and take proactive steps to protect yourself. Here are some additional insights to keep in mind:

  • Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if available. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a verification code in addition to your password when logging in.
  • Secure Your Phone: Ensure your smartphone is secured with a passcode or biometric authentication. This prevents unauthorized access to your Zelle app and personal information.
  • Regularly Update Apps: Keep your Zelle app and other banking apps up to date. Updates often include security patches that help defend against vulnerabilities.
  • Review App Permissions: Be cautious about granting excessive permissions to the Zelle app. Only provide access to necessary features to reduce potential security risks.
  • Secure Wi-Fi Connections: When using Zelle, make sure you’re connected to a secure Wi-Fi network or use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection.
  • Verify Contact Information: Before sending money to a contact, verify their details through a trusted source. Scammers may impersonate contacts to deceive you.
  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest scams and fraud tactics. Knowledge is your best defense against falling victim to new schemes.
Security MeasureDescription
Two-Factor AuthenticationEnable 2FA for an extra layer of security, requiring a verification code along with your password for login.
Secure Your PhoneSecure your smartphone with a passcode or biometric authentication to prevent unauthorized access to your app.
Regularly Update AppsKeep Zelle and other apps up to date for security patches that defend against vulnerabilities.
Review App PermissionsBe cautious about app permissions. Grant access only to necessary features to reduce potential security risks.
Secure Wi-Fi ConnectionsUse secure Wi-Fi networks or VPNs when using Zelle to encrypt your internet connection and protect data.

By adopting these practices and maintaining a cautious approach, you can enhance your Zelle experience while minimizing the risk of falling prey to scams or unauthorized transactions. Remember, taking proactive steps to protect your finances is a vital part of utilizing digital payment platforms safely and securely.

Will Zelle Refund Money If You’re Scammed?

According to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, consumers have the right to dispute unauthorized transfers and can potentially receive a refund for any funds lost due to fraud or deception. Zelle, as an institution facilitating financial electronic transfers, is required to provide this protection and may issue a refund if a customer is a victim of a scam.

Can Someone Hack Your Zelle Account with Your Phone Number?

It is possible for someone to hack into a Zelle account using just a phone number. This is because the phone number is used as a form of identification and verification when sending and receiving money through the platform.

If a hacker were able to access the account holder’s phone or somehow gain access to their cell phone number, they could potentially log in and transfer funds without the account holder’s knowledge or consent. If you fall prey to a Zelle scam, immediately notify your bank of any fraudulent transactions or unapproved Zelle payments sent.

Can a Scammer Access Your Bank Account Through Zelle?

No, a scammer cannot access your bank account through Zelle. However, it is important to be aware of potential scams and always exercise caution when using any digital payment platform like Zelle or Cash App so you don’t lose money. It is recommended to report any suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions to your financial institution or credit union immediately.


Navigating the world of online banking and digital payment platforms like Zelle requires a keen awareness of potential scams and a proactive approach to safeguarding your financial well-being. This article has highlighted ten common scams that individuals should be vigilant about when using Zelle for money transfers. By staying informed about these scams and being familiar with the warning signs, you can better protect yourself and your finances.

Remember that while Zelle offers a convenient and efficient way to send and receive money, it’s not immune to fraudulent activities. Always exercise caution and follow best practices to minimize the risk of falling victim to scams. Whether it’s verifying contact information, avoiding unsolicited requests for money, or maintaining secure Wi-Fi connections, your awareness and cautious behavior are essential in maintaining the security of your transactions.

Additionally, enhancing your Zelle experience involves staying informed about security measures. Utilizing features like two-factor authentication, securing your phone with strong authentication methods, and regularly updating apps are crucial steps in preventing unauthorized access and potential breaches.

While Zelle strives to protect its users, no system is entirely immune to fraud. However, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides a level of protection, allowing consumers to dispute unauthorized transactions and potentially receive refunds in case of fraud. Remember to promptly report any suspicious activities to your financial institution if you become a victim of a scam.

Ultimately, the convenience of digital payment platforms comes with the responsibility of staying informed and practicing safe habits. By adopting the tips and measures outlined in this article, you can enjoy the benefits of Zelle while minimizing the risks associated with potential scams and unauthorized transactions.

In a digital age where financial transactions are increasingly carried out online, it’s vital to be proactive in protecting your financial interests and maintaining a secure online environment. By doing so, you can make the most of Zelle’s capabilities while maintaining the safety and integrity of your financial transactions.

Image: Envato Elements

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Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, United States Marine Corps veteran, serial entrepreneur, and certified digital marketer, who writes for various online publications including his own Grind Boss blog.

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