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I have sold digital goods to a unknown person. They have sent me a Zelle transfer to my Bank of America account of 2,000. The money has been credited to my account and has became available. Although this is true, it has remained as "processing" until the next business day.

Is there any way a bad person on the other end can cancel the processing money? or (as i am aware) does the money leaves their account when they send it and immediately lose it.

I want to be sure the transfer has cleared before selling more digital goods to them.

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  • What did BoA say when you asked them that question?
    – RonJohn
    Nov 5, 2017 at 17:12
  • BoA said the money has been cleared and in my account when i called this morning. They said it is available, and could be withdrawn if necessary. I have checked, and what they said was true, but it still does say processing on the transaction wont be cleared till the next business day.
    – TrevorKS
    Nov 5, 2017 at 17:14
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    As you may be aware, it's a common trick with scammers to pay by some method that can be reversed or fail much later, so I would be very cautious about this. Perhaps ask BofA for something in writing confirming that the credit is irreversible. Nov 5, 2017 at 17:18
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    @TrevorKS "BoA said the money has been cleared" but that's not the question you need to ask them, which is, "*Can it be reversed?"
    – RonJohn
    Nov 5, 2017 at 17:42
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    For what it's worth, I recently made my first Zelle payment, and my bank, Fifth Third, immediately deducted the money from my account and said that it is not reversible except if the payee never registers with Zelle to collect the money. So the money had to really be there in my account, and I can't pull it back. But I can't say if this is how Zelle works in general or if it might be different with other banks.
    – Jay
    Nov 6, 2017 at 23:12

4 Answers 4

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After collecting information via web searching, the comments above, and an additional call to BOA, I have concluded the following to the best of my knowledge.

Zelle Transfers are final. Irreversible.

As Jay mentioned above, funds are subtracted from the sending account before the transfer is made, therefore it eliminates sending funds that do not exist. I validated this information with BOA, and the BOA representative said that once a Zelle transfer is initiated and the receiving party has received the funds, it can no longer be canceled. Funds received by the receiving party is credited immediately.

I will note that the BOA representative was a BOA representative and not a Zelle representative. I say this because the representatives seemed to be slightly weary in answering my questions about Zelle, as if he was looking up the information as we spoke.

If someone is reading this and plans to transfer a huge amount of cash from a highly likely malicious user, I would recommend contacting Zelle or your personal bank directly to further validate this information. Zelle, from what I can find, is a fairly new technology. I could not find a Zelle contact number via the web for questioning, so I can only rely on the knowledge on my BOA representative.

Adding in additional information with new sources from comment below.

As long as both parties are previously enrolled, it is instant and irreversible. This can now be confirmed with direct cites: Can I Cancel a Payment and User Service Agreement (section 11 last paragraph) However If you have not properly registered your email or phone number ahead of time, you run the risk that they cancel the transfer before you complete enrollment. --emkman

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  • As long as both parties are previously enrolled, it is instant and irreversible. This can now be confirmed with direct cites: zellepay.com/support/can-i-cancel-a-payment and zellepay.com/user-service-agreement (section 11 last paragraph) However If you have not properly registered your email or phone number ahead of time, you run the risk that they cancel the transfer before you complete enrollment.
    – emkman
    Jun 15, 2018 at 0:59
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    Thanks for the new info, i added your info to the answer, this information was not available at the time of the posting.
    – TrevorKS
    Jun 15, 2018 at 1:07
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    "the representatives seemed to be slightly weary" Do you mean wary? Jun 15, 2018 at 15:21
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Posting this as a rebuttal to OP's self-answer.

  1. Zelle's FAQ states you cannot cancel a payment, which is true because of the instant transfer. The BOA rep basically said the same thing. But that is different from reversing a payment, which would occur after a payment is cleared. Zelle never states that a payment can be reversed under no circumstances.

  2. The cited User Service Agreement (paragraph 11) basically relieves Zelle and Bank of any liability from the payment. In other words, they don't have the responsibility to reverse payments in a fraud situation, but it doesn't say they can't.

  3. Another answer here, as well as some reddit posts (google "Zelle chargeback" or other similar keywords) seem to suggest reversals do happen. As long as one of them can be confirmed, the answer to OP's question should be yes, despite what Zelle says on its website, or what 99% of the people have experienced so far. You are talking about tail risks after all.

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If the funds have indeed been made available for withdrawal then it is a done deal. Banks do not readily expose themselves to double dealing so I think the money is safely "settled" from the other institution once it is made available to you. I prefer Zelle for that reason. With Paypal and Venmo the funds can be gotten back at any time. Paypal and Venmo are not banking institutions and don't enjoy some of the privileges of Zelle and the banks that back Zelle.

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    This is dangerously misleading. It doesn't explain why (or if) Zelle is different from a bank. With a normal bank, transfers can indeed be called back days or weeks after they settle. Banks do readily expose themselves to double-dealing, placing the burden on the receiver of the money in many cases. Mar 6, 2018 at 20:02
  • @ChrisInEdmonton Zelle is not a bank. It is a interbank electronic funds transfer service like FedWire, CHIPS, Visa, SWIFT. Most of these services are irrevocable like FedWire, SWIFT, Visa (under limited conditions). My understanding is that Zelle is complicated, the only condition it may be reversed is fraudulent origination.
    – user71659
    Mar 7, 2018 at 3:30
  • SWIFT and Visa (the credit card), most definitely, are not irreversible. If Zelle is irreversible, that's worth explicitly noting in your answer, ideally along with a citation showing this. :) Mar 7, 2018 at 14:14
  • @ChrisInEdmonton Nope. Once a SWIFT transfer is completed, it is irreversible. Bangladesh Bank lost $1 Billion this way. I believe that Visa is irreversible for certain cash transfers, like how Venmo transfers cash into consumer accounts. In credit cards, merchant authorizations are irrevocable by themselves.
    – user71659
    Mar 7, 2018 at 16:25
  • @ChrisInEdmonton I believe any Visa cash ATM transaction is irreversible, if you prove that the user got the cash with a proper authorization, and have complied with chip requirements, Visa cannot reverse the transaction. Any fraud is eaten by the card issuer.
    – user71659
    Mar 7, 2018 at 16:33
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I can tell you the by personal experience that Zelle payments are not final as I sell digital goods online and recently had four bank accounts closed under fraud due to Zelle funds chargebacks. This system is prone to scams just like any other online payments platform like Venmo, PayPal, Serve, etc.

These banks always have to "protect" the "victims" even though these are the scammers themselves. Go figure. No protection for vendors at all. Only for buyers.

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  • This is at odds with the OP's self-answer (especially now references to Zelle's ToS have been added). Can you give more details of the circumstances under which you lost money through them? Their ToS has no mention of "chargeback" (and also specifically recommends it is not used for on-line auctions/sales).
    – TripeHound
    Jun 15, 2018 at 7:08
  • Using the Zelle payment system is final. A user can still complain and report a transfer to a bank as malicious, and the bank can or cannot take action, however, they are not in any way liable to do anything. The deal is done. Same with the well known wire-transfer.
    – TrevorKS
    Aug 14, 2018 at 20:57
  • It's possible when payments are made from stolen bank accounts: bisq.community/t/full-reversal-on-zelle/5705 Jul 12, 2019 at 19:49

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