Will your bank reimburse you if fraudsters steal from your bank account?
Ric Edelman: There are now scammers targeting Zelle. Zelle was created in 2017 by America's biggest banks. Zelle is really cool. I'll bet you use it; I certainly do. It lets you transfer money instantly. It's the most widely used money transfer service, twice as big as Venmo. But 18 million people have been defrauded through scams involving Zelle last year. And here's the rub. If a crook steals your bank info, they get a hold of your name and your Social Security number and your bank account number, and they use that info to raid your bank account and they steal your money, your bank will reimburse you. But if you get caught up in a fraud and as part of that, you voluntarily send money to someone using Zelle and you later find out that it was a fraud and you got ripped off, your bank will not reimburse you. Banks say that federal law covering electronic transfers only covers unauthorized transactions, not transactions that you do authorize merely because you were tricked. But what if the crook is the one who's doing the Zelle trades? In other words, the crook steals your banking info, goes into your bank account, and uses Zelle to transfer money out of your account. Will the bank be liable in that case? The law is unclear. Banks, as you can imagine, are trying not to be liable. So if you lose money due to an unauthorized transfer of assets via Zelle and your bank refuses to reimburse you. Get noisy, raise a stink about this. The more you complain, the more you threaten to go to regulators or the media, the more likely the bank will be to cooperate with you.