How to avoid being the victim of a digital payments scam

July 19, 2022

There are risks with any type of payment, but you can take steps to pay it safe. Here’s how.

Using digital payments like Venmo, CashApp, and Zelle® has made life much easier, but they can come with risks. Still, there are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself from being scammed and to keep your money safe.


What to watch out for

Fraudsters will stop at nothing trying to trick you into giving them your personal information and verification codes to gain access to your bank account – and your money. They may use spoofed phone numbers or text messages claiming to be a representative of your bank - and ask you for personal information, online credentials or one-time authentication passcodes. They may even ask you to send yourself money to "reverse" a fraudulent transaction. But the person is actually attempting to trick you and gain access to your account so they can use Zelle® to make unauthorized payments without your knowledge that end up in their pocket. Learn more on "How to Pay it Safe with Zelle®" and spot payment scams. This video from Zelle® shows how to avoid a payment scam.


How do I protect myself?

Knowing what to look for can help keep you and your money safe. Here are three tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don't respond to unsolicited requests: If you receive an email or text message from an individual or business asking for payment, but you didn't contact them first, don't respond. Instead, call the individual or business directly, using a verified contact number, to inquire about your account and any potential security issues. 

  2. Never give out your login credentials: Criminals pretending to be your bank or a government entity (like a utility company) may pressure you to tell them your login credentials, including your password, but real institutions — including U.S. Bank — will never ask you for it.

  3. Treat Zelle® like cash: Money moves fast — often within minutes1. Always double check to make sure you have the right email or U.S. mobile number before you send money. If a purple Z appears next to your contacts, they are already enrolled with Zelle®. If the recipient is already enrolled, you’ll see the first name of the person who has enrolled the email address or mobile number being used on the screen before the money is sent. Be sure to carefully review any prompts before you confirm the transaction. Neither U.S. Bank nor Zelle® offers a protection program for any authorized payments made with Zelle® – for example, if you do not receive the item you paid for or the item is not as described or as you expected.


What should I do if I've been the victim of a digital payments scam?

If you think something’s not right with your account, contact your financial institution right away. At U.S. Bank you can call the Fraud Liaison Center, 877-595-6256. Or call the number on the back of your U.S. Bank card or statement. Find out more about the U.S. Bank Digital Security Coverage.


Read more about ways to protect yourself from fraud and scams

Related content

Lessons learned from experiencing a scam

Make holiday gift giving easier in a digital world

Annual insurance review checklist

How to keep your assets safe

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Role of complementary new channels in your payments strategy

ABCs of APIs: Drive treasury efficiency with real-time connectivity

Want AP automation to pay both businesses and consumers?

Restaurant surveys show changing customer payment preferences

Restaurant surveys show changing customer payment preferences

How to avoid student loan scams

How to prevent fraud

Outsmart tax scams and keep your finances safe

Keep your finances safe and secure: Essential tips for preventing check fraud

How to spot an online scam

What is financial fraud?

Protect yourself from financial exploitation

Protecting elderly parents’ finances: 6 steps to follow when managing their money

How to avoid being the victim of a digital payments scam

3 awkward situations Zelle can help avoid

Money muling 101: Recognizing and avoiding this increasingly common scam

Is online banking safe?

How-to guide: What to do if your identity is stolen

8 tips and tricks for creating and remembering your PIN

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Recognize. React. Report. Don't fall victim to financial exploitation

Webinar: U.S. Bank asks: Are you safe from fraud?

Learn to spot and protect yourself from common student scams

Banking basics: Avoiding fraud and scams

4 ways to outsmart your smart device

How to spot a credit repair scam

Webinar: How to stay safe from cyberfraud

Can faster payments mean better payments?

How you can prevent identity theft

What you need to know about identity theft

Colleges respond to student needs by offering digital payments


1. To send money in minutes with Zelle® at U.S. Bank, you must have an eligible U.S. Bank account and have a mobile number registered in your mobile and online banking profile for at least three calendar days. U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled consumers typically occur in minutes and generally do not incur transaction fees.

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, Home Equity and Credit products are offered through U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered through U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.