Do you ever use Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App? If so, you may be at risk for a pair of common yet effective scams that fraudsters are using to steal users’ hard-earned money.
The first is an “accidental transfer” scam. Here, users will see an “accidental” deposit into their account. The sender will then ask for the deposit back, claiming it was a mistake. When the target returns the deposit – to be nice – they are really sending their own money to the scammer.
The transfer is not an accident at all. The money the user received is likely sent from a stolen credit card. In this case, the money the fraudster sent disappears since it came from a now invalid credit card that the original holder has just canceled.
On the other hand, you just willingly authorized a transfer of your own money to the scammer.
The best thing to do if you were sent money is to do nothing. The funds will likely disappear from your account in a few days.
In the second scam, users receive texts claiming to be from the bank with a fraudulent number to call. Once the scammer has you on the line, they will claim someone is trying to transfer money from your account. They will then give you a phone number to call, request to text back to confirm or deny the transaction or contact you directly. Once they have you on the phone, scammers may use stolen personal information such as your account number, social security number, or other details to try and build credibility.
At this point, the scammers will ask you to Zelle the money back to yourself to cancel the fraudulent charges.
If you have a Zelle account, the scammers then verify your username and password to log in before asking you to confirm the one-time code sent to you from Zelle and your bank. The scammer will ask you to verify the code so they can get access to your account.
If you don’t have a Zelle account, they’ll create one for you and go through the process mentioned above.
The six-digit number is a legitimate code that banks use for two-factor authentication. Such codes are required when users log into a new device or browser. They serve as a way to confirm your identity. Except in this scenario, the scammer is signing in on their device. Once the fraudster has the code, nothing stops them from taking money out of your account.
What do you do if you fall for the scams?
- Call your bank as soon as possible and file a claim. You may be covered under Regulation E. Regulation E protects consumers when they use electronic fund transfers.
- File a police report. Provide the police report to the bank.
- If your bank is unwilling to assist, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Remember, a sense of urgency is a tool used to make people obey directions without thinking. It is a way to make people panic. If you are ever concerned that you have a fraudulent charge or receive an unexpected call, never provide them information. Hang up and call your bank at the number posted on their website.
In general, keep in mind that you can’t take back what you send with money transfer apps. Any money you transfer is likely gone forever.