While I was trying to figure out what to name this post, I was doing some searching and I came across this story about a woman who was scammed using Zelle. Long story short, she got her money back. But nobody wants to be scammed!
My story using Zelle doesn’t have anything to do with being scammed, but my gosh! I mean, it can happen to anyone, anytime!
What is Zelle?
Zelle is an online payment app that is connected directly to your bank account. Hundreds of banks and credit unions offer Zelle through their banking apps. Don’t worry, if your bank doesn’t have Zelle yet, you can still get the Zelle app from the App Store or Google Play. You no longer have to use the same bank to transfer money between friends and family.
How to use Zelle
Signup is quick and easy through your banking app or online banking website.
You’ll choose to use either your phone number or email address. When you want someone to pay you using Zelle, you give them the phone number or email that you used so that it will go to the correct account.
You can only have one bank account per phone number or email address. So for example, I have my email address tied to one account at bank ABC. And my phone number is tied to another account at bank XYZ. Different accounts, different banks.
Here’s what happened to me using Zelle
I have a client who rents out several Airbnb units. On occasion, for whatever reason, we’ll do bookings “offline”. My client’s preferred payment options include Zelle, Venmo, and wire transfers. Zelle is definitely becoming a more popular selection for our guests as people realize it’s tied to their bank and almost anyone can use it.
We have a new guest who needs to make a payment. In communicating with him, he decided to send a $1 payment to ME to make sure it went through. Well, no sir, “it’s not going to me,” but rather to the owner. “This is her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The entire day goes by and I finally hear back from him. He sends a screenshot of it going to the owner – by her phone number!🤦♀️
If you know anything about Zelle, you might know where this is going… Or do you?? Well, you might because I explained this above:
With Zelle, you have the option to enroll with either your phone number or your email address.
I actually just learned this recently! I pay and accept money kinda frequently, yet I just learned this!
So imagine the ordinary Joe who rarely sends money (and probably never receives it) there’s no way he knows that it actually does make a difference if you send it to a phone number versus an email address.
How I use Zelle for my virtual assistant business
I have received payments from clients through Zelle. It was important that I tell my client where I wanted the payment to go. She doesn’t normally pay me that way, and in hindsight, I should have sent her a Zelle request from the bank account where I wanted the money to go. If we need to do that again, I would send a request rather than tell her my phone number or email address. It just reduces the risk of error.
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I’ve also used Zelle for personal transactions. I send Zelle requests to my ex-husband so he can pay for things for our kids. And just yesterday I bought myself a gift from a direct sales friend. It’s definitely convenient for exchanging money between people without using credit cards.
Is there a solution?
I don’t know if there’s a fool-proof solution to the issue I ran into with my client and our guest.
If it was my bank account, I could send him a request for the payment so that it comes to the correct bank. But since this is for my client, I don’t have access to her account in order to send the request.
I could use something like LastPass to gain access to her account without having the password. But I would still have access to her bank account, which might feel risky to my client. I wouldn’t want to allow access to someone else.
I’ll be thinking about this and I’ll let you know what I figure out!
Have you used Zelle? What’s your favorite app for sending and receiving money?