I am wanting to purchase an item and the seller only accepts Zelle. If I send a payment and do not get my item, is there a way to get my money back?

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    How did you find the seller? The marketplace will often carry its own guarantee of a complete order. May 18, 2019 at 17:11
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    @JoeTaxpayer: In my experience, the marketplaces that provide buyer protection are the same ones that perform payment processing. A payment made via Zelle is certainly outside any marketplace, and there won't be any guarantees for orders placed circumventing the marketplace, even if the seller has a listing in the marketplace and even if that's the method of initial contact.
    – Ben Voigt
    May 18, 2019 at 22:57
  • @BenVoigt - yes. My comment or an answer should just have said to use the marketplace’s method of payment to get their guarantee, if any. If not, find the item elsewhere. May 19, 2019 at 16:22
  • Tell us more about what makes this seller special; why select them instead of dozens of other sellers of the same thing? May 19, 2019 at 17:55
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    @Belle-Sophie zellepay.com May 20, 2019 at 12:42

6 Answers 6


If the seller only accepts a payment method that doesn't allow you to get your money back, then there is a reason for that. There is a much higher likelihood that something happens where you'd want a refund, and you won't get one. So I would stay well away from this.


The Zelle FAQ article "I’m unsure about using Zelle® to pay someone I don’t know. What should I do?" can be sumarized in three words: "Use something else".

Zelle is a great way to send money to friends, family or others you trust such as your personal trainer, babysitter, or a neighbor. If you don’t know the person, or aren’t sure you will get what you paid for (for example, items bought from an on-line bidding or sales site), we recommend you do not use Zelle for these types of transactions, which are potentially high risk.

Zelle does not offer a protection program for any authorized payments made with Zelle - for example, if you make a purchase using Zelle, but you do not receive the item or the item is not as described or as you expected.

If you get scammed, they won't help you in any way to get a refund. Reclaiming the money would be your own responsibility.

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    I think the key take away is that you should treat Zelle as cash. If you are not comfortable handling a transaction using cash, then you should not consider Zelle either.
    – Rich
    May 21, 2019 at 13:13

Zelle/Venmo do not protect you in this situation, so you'd likely have to resort to the courts to compel re-payment from the seller. Small-claims court can be fairly reasonable, but is not always an option if the seller is in a different state. Costs can quickly add up to more than it's worth, though if successful you might also recoup legal costs from the seller.

If you don't trust the seller stick with payment methods that offer protection, if they are hesitant due to the extra fees associated with other methods then perhaps you would offer to pay a little extra.


Small claims court. Which will probably cost you more than the cost of the item, and definitely will take long enough for the fraudster to disappear with your money.

You would have no basis to request a reversal of a Zelle transfer, because when you make a Zelle transfer you have to agree to treat the payment as a gift not as a payment for goods. Failure to deliver the goods is not any concern of Zelle or the banks participating in using Zelle for transfers.


"Gifts" as a payment method is typically used in case of dubious transactions. Either the seller tries to avoid paying duties and taxes, or they are trying to avoid providing you with something they are obliged to provide (like mandatory warranty), or perhaps they are selling you an item which cannot be sold legally. That is, assuming that they don't plan to simply disappear as soon as they get your money.

A wise piece of advice would be to stay away.

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    Zelle does not imply a gift. One term used for these services is quasi-cash transaction.
    – user71659
    May 20, 2019 at 22:19
  • @user71659 Technically true, but it may actually be that the OP are thinking they are buying something, when in fact they are making a gift and expect a gift in return. In many cases claiming that the transaction was an actual gift is the main defence the other party will use if you try to sue them. And yet another reason the OP should stay away is because disguising a purchase as a gift is a kind of fraud. AFAIK, Zelle doesn't allow any kind of business transactions for customers with debit cards other than gifts. May 21, 2019 at 8:31

For online purchases, I find it is best to have more than one guarantee of refund for goods not received. (1) Ebay and Paypal both have separate policies with different deadlines. (2) The bankcard you use can also have a policy for disputing charges for goods not received, but some banks make this too complicated by putting responsibility on the buyer to prove they negotiated with the merchant first and documented the process. (3) Only if packages are actually mailed using insurance, and later lost, the carrier service has another system of claims against insurance, which also involve deadlines and documentation. If someone is a legitimate seller in good faith, they will agree to insurance and other systems that protect the buyer and back the purchase; but if it costs extra for these services, they want the buyer to pay the difference. Thus, you could also offer to pay this seller more to cover added costs for using a different system that allows safer guarantees. Both ebay and paypal add costs and time, so you might have to add a lot more to the payment as "incentive" to make it worth the seller's trouble to use those. (NOTE: If you cannot use this seller, try searching online for the same or similar item elsewhere. )

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