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Avoid Scams When Paying With Zelle® and Other Apps

Sending a payment through an app is like handing someone cash. These apps are convenient, but you should only use them with people you know and trust.

Using Zelle® is a fast and easy way to send money from your BECU account, but it's important to be aware of scams involving peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps like Zelle®, Venmo, PayPal and Cash App.

You're likely to encounter payment scams everywhere people are buying, selling, and advertising services and merchandise. This can include your social media feed, email inbox and messaging apps, as well as public websites and marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace.

Learn what makes payment scams appealing to fraudsters, how to identify warning signs and protect yourself, and where to report these scams if you're targeted.

Fraudsters Rely on the Ease and Speed of Payment Apps 

Because payment apps are superfast and convenient, you should only use them to send and receive money to people you know and trust. 

Sending money through a payment app to online sellers or other strangers can be risky. You can become the victim of a scam if someone deceives you into authorizing a transaction.

Despite our efforts, we're typically unable to retrieve funds after a digital payment has been authorized. That's why we strongly recommend against using an app to pay someone you don't know or trust. Remember: Using a payment app is the same as paying with cash. If you can't verify the person's identity, it's not safe to send them money. 

Recognizing Payment Scams

When you encounter a payment scam, the transaction might seem ordinary and legitimate — until it's time to pay. Watch for these warning signs and tactics commonly used in payment scams:

  • Creating a sense of urgency: A scammer might pressure you to act quickly, sometimes using an impending or urgent deadline.
  • Offering only one payment option: They tell you their business only accepts P2P payments, prepaid cards or gift cards.
  • Impersonating someone you know: They try to trick you into transferring funds by impersonating someone or a company you recognize or would be likely to trust to make the transaction seem legitimate. You might receive an email or text message that looks like it's from the payment service. These messages may include instructions for returning overpaid funds or returning the funds because of a problem.
  • Changing the payment amount or asking for more money: They follow up on your initial payment with reasons why you need to pay more.
  • Using breaking news stories: Fraudsters use natural disasters or international events like the Russia-Ukraine crisis or the Israel-Gaza War to urge payments or donations to illegitimate individuals or companies.
  • Contacting you out of the blue: They send unexpected messages that are hostile or aggressive, urgent, sensational, or too good to be true. It's best not to respond to unsolicited contact at all, and never send a payment to someone who messaged you unexpectedly.

Avoiding Payment Scams

It's also critical to understand how to avoid a scam in the first place. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Don't use payment apps with strangers. Never send or accept payments from someone you don't know. Only use these apps to transfer money with friends, family and those you know and trust.
  • Double-check payment details before sending money. Confirm that the recipient's name, phone number, email address and amount you're transferring are correct. If you send money to the wrong person by accident, you may not be able to get it back.
  • Scrutinize email and text messages. Verify the sender and don't click links in unsolicited communications. Look for spelling errors or strange wording. These may be clues that the message isn't authentic. If you're unsure, log in to your account or the app directly (not through the email or text message you received) to see if there are any related messages. If not, you can ignore the notification - it's likely a scam.
  • Read the terms of service. Make sure you understand the fraud protection policies for any payment apps you use. 

Learn more about how to use Zelle® safely.

Report Payment Scams to BECU

If you're concerned about a suspicious communication you've received or acted on, please report it immediately using one of the methods below.

Report Phishing to BECU

You can report social engineering attempts that you've received (but not acted on) to our security team at This no-reply email mailbox is only used to monitor and identify trends in scams targeting members. Please don't send confidential information via email. If you've responded to a communication that you think may have been a scam, it's important that you call us, send us a secure message, or visit a BECU location.

Report Scams to the Federal Government

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Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.