If you’re looking for a bank for day to day retail banking needs like depositing your paycheck or paying recurring monthly bills, you may want to think again before using Capital One. There has been a growing number of cases reported in 2023 of the bank using the money sending app Zelle to take money out of their customers’ accounts overnight and claim that it’s a glitch in the Zelle app.
It’s a crafty method Capital One uses on the unsuspecting customer. They stick with small businesses or customers that tend to have $50,000 or less in their account, and keep the amounts they steal limited to $500 or less. But compounded by tens of thousands of customer accounts a night, the total amount of money the bank is able to collect amasses to hundreds of thousands of dollars per night.
Some customers may not even notice the money is gone at first. And that’s exactly what the bank is hoping for. But for most working Americans $250 to $500 is a lot of money. Consumer Protection agencies say that so far Capital One only targets customers or businesses who’ve recently sent money to a friend, family member or another business using Zelle; this person is called the Recipient. The Capital One customer, called the Sender, hears back from the recipient that they never received the money. So they contact Zelle, who reports that the money was received and cleared by Capital One bank.
The customer then calls Capital One. What happens next is a circular scheme of never ending phone calls and e-mails with the bank who claims that they see the transaction but aren’t able to verify if the recipient received the money; and due to the terms of service of Zelle they aren’t able to return the money to the sender either.
Recorded calls with Capital One customer service reps reveal that even they are unable to fully understand where the customers’ money is, but they can confirm that the bank did receive the money from Zelle. They also can confirm that the customers’ account has been debited by the amount they sent. Most of the time the customers have already sent the recipient a second payment using a different money sending method like PayPal or Venmo, assuming that Capital One would discover the glitch and refund the first payment to them. Instead the bank continues to claim that “due to the terms of service of Zelle, users are liable for the payments sent using the app”.
This phrase is repeated to the customers ad nauseam by Capital One customer service reps, who themselves aren’t even sure what it means or how it equates to Capital One taking these large amounts of money out of customers’ accounts. They can only see that the customer has paid for the transaction twice, their account has been debited twice and there’s no way to refund the first transaction.
Both customers and Capital One customer service reps remain confused during what usually turns into conversations that last an hour or more. Both can see that the account is missing the money from the first transaction and that the recipient never received it. Both can confirm that Capital One processed the transaction and has the customers’ money. They just can’t figure out why, nor how to retrieve the money in order to refund it to the customer.
What Capital One is doing with the money they’ve kept from these transactions or where it’s gone remains a mystery. But reports of this type are mounting up across the country. Customers are then forced to find an attorney and file a claim against the bank. But most working Americans don’t have the time for that, so they put it off. Capital One is then able to keep the money from their customers’ Zelle transactions without ever sending it to the recipients. Stories like this are beginning to appear more and more frequently about Capital One and Zelle, though in their defense it appears that Zelle is as much a victim of Capital One’s questionable banking practices as their customers.
One thing is sure about these stories. Consumers would be better off not using the Zelle money sending app if they bank with Capital One, or better yet would be safer still if they chose a different bank altogether.