Payment apps like Venmo, Cash App and Zelle are an easy way to send money to – and receive money from – friends, colleagues and family members. However, when money is involved, you can be sure the bad guys are looking for ways to get a piece of the action. We recently heard about this scam using Zelle and wanted to make sure you knew about it and didn’t fall for it.
“Pay Yourself” Scam
Here’s how it works:
- You receive a text that looks like a legitimate bank fraud alert. In most cases, it says something like, “Did you make a purchase of $125 at Kroger (or some other popular merchant)?”
- If you respond, you will receive a phone call from a number that your phone identifies as your bank.
- The person calling will offer to help you take care of the alleged fraudulent activity and prove it is your account 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 empty your account into theirs using Zelle.
Protect Yourself Tips
Scammers are good at using our emotions, particularly fear, to convince us to make poor decisions. To avoid falling prey, 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 (real) website.
Also, don’t automatically trust caller ID. 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 over the phone, even if it seems like a trusted source.
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