For years PayPal has been labeled the easiest and fastest, and safest way to send and receive money, buy and sell, and monitor all transactions. They use specific identifying tools to protect their customers from fraud and scam. These identifying tools help their customers confirm all transactions, monitor activity, and report anything suspicious all for the sake of helping their customers have a good experience using PayPal. Image from Barrons Next.
However, over the years PayPal has been at the forefront of phishing scams. transaction scams, fraudulent activity — all because criminals are continuing to find ways to disguise themselves as PayPal by hiding behind fake email correspondence in the attempt to convince would-be suspects that they are legitimately receiving emails from PayPal. These emails:
- Alert them of pending transactions
- Will ask them to verify their username and password for the purpose of verifying their account
- Will ask money to sent before a transaction can be completed
- Will include your name if you are in contact with someone who is purchasing item you are selling and wants you to send money before the transaction can be completed and will send a too detailed email
- Will refer to you as PayPal User
If consumers are not aware of these scams or how to spot them they are at the risk of losing hundreds to thousands of dollars because they are quick to assume that the emails are genuine. The key thing to note is that if a consumer has a PayPal account genuine emails will go directly to their inbox because they use verifying factors to help accounts. These factors include:
- Account verification when you create a new account
- Provides email confirmations when changes have been made to the account
- Provides email confirmations when user account settings have been changed such as passwords, email changes, and when bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards have been added/updated
- Notification of PayPal debit request
Years back PayPal notified their customers making them aware of a huge phishing scam emails that were going around, what to look for and how to avoid them. They were alerting their customers of the verifying factors used to help customers identify true PayPal emails, what information PayPal would never ask for, and how their customers are addressed in order to protect their customers.
Today phishers are finding new ways to disguise themselves as PayPal support and purchases are also using PayPal tactics to steal items from sellers who send them in good faith under the belief that the purchaser is using a legitimate PayPal account to send payment.
What you should know:
- PayPal will never ask to verify username or password to verify accounts
- They will never ask customers to send money in order to receive money
- PayPal uses specific identifying factors to verify their customers
- They use an email system unique to their email communications.
The picture below is a copy from an actual email that was sent with regard to what was supposed to be a PayPal transaction that involved the purchase of a wedding dress that was to be shipped to Atlanta, GA upon receipt of payment.
After the seller had contacted the buyer who had expressed interest, the seller was then told she would ship the dress upon receipt of payment which the buyer indicated she would send $300 plus $50 for shipping via PayPal. The seller logged in to her PayPal account to update her bank card information and updated her address. She immediately received emails in her inbox from PayPal alerting her to the changes that she had made.
The next day the seller was notified by the buyer of the payment she sent via what was allegedly to be PayPal. The tell-tell sign that something was fishy was that the email stated that the limit that could be received could not be less than $550 and because the buyer had supposedly sent $350, it could not be credited to the seller’s account. There was another email that was sent (not shown) stating that the $550 had been sent, but $200 had to be refunded back to the buyer in the form of two $100 iTune gift cards. Who needs $200 in iTune gift cards? Confused about this, the seller read the emails a number of times and was thrown off by the note in both emails stating that PayPal could not be reached by phone, but by email only. She looked at the email it came from and noticed it was a Gmail email address. The seller contacted her mother who has been a PayPal customer since 2004. The mother — after reading the emails — confirmed her daughter’s suspicions that the emails were fake. This prompted the seller to make two phone calls to PayPal who:
- Confirmed what the seller’s mother had told her that the emails were fake.
- The email noted for the buyer was confirmed as having no email account on record for the buyer
- There was no record of an incoming payment to the buyer’s PayPal account
- PayPal simply notifies customers that they received a payment in their account
- They did not express there being a limit to how much could be sent via PayPal
- PayPal does not ask customers to send money in order to receive money
- Expresses the importance of not providing any personal/vital information to a buyer who is being suspected of fraud.
- PayPal will not tell customers they cannot be reach via phone but email only, especially with regards to payment transactions.
Any suspicious activity on any one customer is brought to the attention of that customer immediately. PayPal emphasizses the importance of being notified if someone is suspected fraudulent activity and welcomes customers providing as much information as they possibly can. This helps to continue in increases security measures to protect their customers.
The buyer was contacted by the seller notifying her that PayPal verified there was no payment received. The buyer accused the seller of trying to rip her off when in fact it was the other way around. No money had been received therefore there was no money to refund. The seller told the buyer she only had $150 available in her bank account. The buyer wanted it and continued to contact the seller to see if she sent the money. The seller continued to inform the buyer that she received no money and that PayPal had no record of a transaction on the account. The buyer threatened to sue the seller, which at the point the seller welcomed it informing that buyer that she got caught and was going to be reported. The buyer was reported to the selling platform the dress was listed for sell, she was reported to PayPal — all information was provided to them. The dress had been shipped, but was able to be intercepted and was returned. The buyer was never heard from again.
Moral of the story, you are not going to always know who you are selling your items to once you list it for sell on various platforms. Best thing you can do is sell your items on local listings. Educate yourself on how PayPal works should you choose to except payment via their service. Contact them if you have any questions on their policies which they update and send out regularly. Report anything suspicious to PayPal if you suspect someone is trying to scam you using their name and logo. Do not provide any personal information to a buyer especially if something does not seem right. You can call PayPal to verify any information related to transactions.
The more you know and the more educated you are, you are keeping scammers out of your neighborhood.