Lose money in a Zelle scam? Your bank may now have to refund you

Victims who lost money to scammers through the Zelle app may now be more likely to get their money back.

Renee Roberson is a true crime podcaster. She says she was actually working on an episode about cybersecurity and was about to jump on a call with an expert for the story when a scammer called her and pretended to be with her bank, Bank of America.

MORE ACTION 9: How common Zelle scam works so you can avoid it

It was the classic “Me to Me” scam. She says the scammer told her a criminal was trying to access her account, that the caller was there to help, and all she had to do was create a new account and shift her money into that one using Zelle. She says she did and ended up out more than $3,000.

She says she filed a claim with Bank of America but it denied it. “It was dumb and I fell for it and now I have to live with it,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

Federal law says banks have to reimburse you for unauthorized transactions but they don’t for authorized ones. So, if you voluntarily give someone money, that’s on you.

But some, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, argue that if someone tricks you into transferring money, that’s not really voluntary and should be treated like an unauthorized transaction.

Some banks have gone along with that approach. Others have not.

Stoogenke has been covering these imposter scams involving Zelle for more than two years. More than 70 people reached out to him over that time. He’s been able to get some of them their money back, but there’s never been a guarantee.

Maybe until now.

Zelle has a new policy that says banks and credit unions have to give your money back.

The rules:

- You had to have fallen victim to the scam on June 30 or since then.

- It had to be an ‘imposter’ scam.

- The scammer had to pretend to be with a ‘trusted’ entity such as your bank.

Roberson’s case seems to check all those boxes so Stoogenke reached out to BofA to see if it would reconsider its decision in light of Zelle’s new policy.

“That would be nice because I’ve done every single thing I possibly could and all the doors have closed at this point,” she said.

He did not hear back in time for this report.

MORE ACTION 9: Multiple people say they were scammed through Zelle app

If this happens to you, your first step is to make sure you report it and to the right place:

- If your bank uses Zelle, start with your bank.

- If you have Zelle on your own, start with Zelle.

Zelle has consumer education materials on its website here. It also plans to launch a new consumer educational campaign video series by the end of November.

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