Skip to Content
How to spot scams targeting Zelle users
© Nataliia Mihova | Dreamstime.com
Security & privacy

Use a payment app? New scam stealing thousands from unsuspecting victims

There are plenty of dangers associated with online shopping. User-driven platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace are hotspots for scammers trying to tell fake products or not shop the items.

If that isn’t enough to put you off from shopping online, several other scams can be more damaging to your wallet. Cybercriminals will often go out of their way to launch sophisticated phishing scams to make a quick buck.

Read on for the latest online payment scam that is spreading fast and how you can prevent falling victim to it.

Here’s the backstory

It’s not all bad when it comes to shopping online. There are a few benefits, like having the option to pay through several outlets. Besides Visa or Mastercard, shoppers can often pay through PayPal or Venmo.

But if Zelle is your preferred method, you might want to double-check any communication from the platform. A new scam targets Zelle app users, and one victim lost as much as $3,500 to cybercriminals.

The methods used can differ, but the most common tactic is criminals impersonating Zelle agents. This is done through spoofing mobile numbers or emails so that the Caller ID on the victim’s phone or sender’s email address shows a Zelle contact.

The scammers will claim that a payment you attempted to make didn’t go through or another issue requiring authentication. Then, to seemingly correct the problem, criminals will instruct you to make a payment into a specific account. But beware! The account belongs to the scammers.

But that is where it gets tricky. Even though a scammer initiated the phone call or email, Zelle said that users are the ones who authorized the payment, and you can’t get your money back.

Source: zellepay.com
zellepay.com

What you can do about it

Whether it’s your bank or another payment platform reaching out to you, treat all communications as potential phishing attacks. If you need to do business with a financial institution, contact them through official sources like phone numbers listed on the back of credit or debit cards.

If you don’t have a card to get an official number, go to the official website by typing it directly into your browser. Here are more suggestions to avoid falling victim to phishing scams:

  • If you receive a phone call claiming to be from a financial institution and it feels suspicious, hang up ASAP. Then call the institution through an official number to see if there really is an issue.
  • Don’t click on links and attachments that you receive in unsolicited emails.
  • If the message gives you a sense of urgency, delete it.
  • Spelling and grammar errors are big red flags.
  • Use two-factor authentication and password managers for better security.
  • Keep your operating systems, apps and devices updated with the latest official software and patches.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!

Keep reading

True or false: The federal government is tracking payments to friends and family over $600

5 new eBay scams every buyer and seller needs to know about

Refer friends, earn rewards

Share your source of digital lifestyle news, tips and advice with friends and family, and you'll be on your way to earning awesome rewards!

Get started