How to Avoid Scams with Zelle

Zelle is a digital payments network that enables users to send, receive, and request money to or from people they know and trust within minutes. Due to the nature of Zelle's near real-time payment service, people can often be targeted by scammers in an attempt to trick you into sending a fraudster money. How can you avoid scams and safely make payments? We'll walk you through the best tips to prevent fraud and send money securely on Zelle.

Making Payments the Safe and Smart Way

Use Zelle to pay close friends, family, or other people that you know and trust.

Zelle offers a very convenient way to send money to people that you trust in near real-time, with payments usually transferring within minutes.

Do not use Zelle to pay for goods or services if you do not personally know and trust the person selling what you are buying.

Using Zelle to pay for items bought through Craigslist or online bidding and sales websites is highly discouraged, as these are places where scammers will often trick people into sending them money without actually delivering products.

  • Remember, if you send money to someone for the purchase of goods, like concert tickets, and they don’t deliver the tickets, you will be liable and your bank cannot recover the money for you.

Understanding Zelle’s Fraud Protection

Understand that you are protected from unauthorized transfers made through Zelle.

Regulation E, a consumer protection law, protects consumers from unauthorized electronic transactions, as long as they are reported in a timely manner.

  • It’s important to recognize that, by definition, “unauthorized” means the transfer was initiated by a person other than the consumer and without actual authority to initiate the transfer.

Understand that many banks offering Zelle have systems in place to help detect and prevent potentially fraudulent Zelle transfers.

  • Common methods of detecting and preventing fraudulent transactions include ensuring neither the sender nor receiver of the funds is listed in OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List, and comparing the transfer against the sender’s transaction history in order to detect anomalous behavior.
  • If your bank detects the transfer may be fraudulent, they will usually block the transfer and may potentially freeze your account until they are able to speak with you to confirm whether or not you attempted to make the transfer.

Understand that Zelle does not offer any additional fraud protection.

Banks are required to provide consumers certain protections under Regulation E, but that protection is limited in scope and does not cover all types of fraud claims.

  • You do not have fraud protection if you send money to someone in order to purchase goods or services, but then the seller never provides those goods or services. Such disputes will have to be resolved between you and the seller directly, and your bank will not reimburse you the money that you sent.

Report any unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately.

Even if you are not sure whether your specific case will have any fraud protections, report any unauthorized Zelle transfers to your bank immediately after learning about the transfer.

  • In order to avoid liability for certain unauthorized electronic transactions, you must report the fraud in a timely manner.
  • Your bank will ask you questions about what happened in order to assist in their investigation. Be open, honest, and share all pertinent information in order to help your bank process your fraud claim in a timely manner.


  • You may wish to report scammers, especially if you are the victim of a scam, to your local police department.
  • Be sure to check with recipients before sending them money to verify what their phone number or email address is that is registered with Zelle. If they are unsure, have them check with their bank to verify that before you send them money.


  • Sending money through Zelle is like sending a wire transfer or giving someone cash. Once the transfer is made, you cannot change your mind and recall or recover the money.

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