Is PayPal Safe? What are the risks of using PayPal? PayPal is a super popular way to shop online, send and receive payments – but is it safe? How safe is PayPal when you’re buying things from ecommerce sites? And is PayPal safe to use with strangers when someone wants to send you a payment?
This guide covers all you need to know about PayPal’s security features and common scams, including phishing scams and how fake charities may target you to try to get money through your PayPal account.
And because PayPal’s not your only payment option, we’ll also introduce Wise’s low cost international transfers as a good way to beat PayPal’s overseas payment fees.
Is PayPal Safe?
PayPal is considered one of the safest ways to receive money online. All PayPal transactions are protected by advanced data encryption. PayPal also offers seller protection protocols to prevent fraudulent activities and make the platform safe for sellers.
If you’re running a business, though, you might still wonder how safe PayPal is for sellers and what kind of protection you get. Let’s look at some of the transaction protections that PayPal offers.
PayPal’s protection measures include:
- The PayPal Seller Protection program to help merchants avoid losing payments from unauthorized transactions and fraudulent chargebacks, reversals, or buyer claims.
- 24/7 fraud monitoring of all transactions, with automatic alerts about suspicious activity.
- Bank accounts and card numbers are not required to process transactions — only a username and password.
- Merchant fraud prevention allows sellers to contact PayPal directly about suspicious activity.
- If a PayPal payment dispute occurs, transactions are put on hold until the issue is resolved.
It’s important to remember that managing or viewing your PayPal account on a public network heightens the risk of someone gaining access to your information. When using an open Wi-Fi connection at an airport, restaurant, or other public establishment, take advantage of the benefits of a VPN to browse safely on public Wi-Fi.
Is PayPal safe for buyers?
PayPal isn’t just a secure platform for sellers. PayPal secures and encrypts transactions on both ends to ensure that the platform is safe to use for both buyers and sellers. As long as you have a secure connection to the legitimate PayPal website, your personal information and data should be safe when paying with PayPal.
PayPal offers similar safety and security measures for buyers that it offers its sellers, such as 24/7 fraud monitoring, dispute resolution, and fraud prevention. In addition, your full financial information is never shared with sellers.
You’ll also benefit from PayPal’s generous Purchase Protection program, which helps to protect you from online scams. If an order doesn’t show up, arrives damaged, or significantly differs from the description, you may be eligible for a full refund (including shipping costs) from PayPal. You just need to file a dispute within 180 days of purchase or payment to qualify.
Check out our complete guide to learn more about how to report online scams.
PayPal goods and services
Goods and services transactions are used when buying an item or service from a seller. For these types of transactions, the seller pays the transaction fee.
Now that you know the different types of transactions, let’s talk about security. Is PayPal friends and family safe to send and receive money? Is PayPal goods and services safe for buying online?
Yes, all PayPal transactions are generally considered safe and secure. These different payment designations are mainly used for tax reporting purposes. Still, there are other reasons to pay attention to the type of payment method you choose.
Friends and family payments should be used for — well, friends and family members. While it’s common for sellers to request using friends and family payments to avoid fees, we don’t recommend it. First, it violates PayPal’s User Agreement, but it’s also a good way to get scammed.
PayPal does not protect purchases unless they are Goods and Services transactions. And this goes for sellers too. If you accept payment for services as if they are friends or family, you won’t be protected for unauthorized transactions or if someone fraudulently claims that an item wasn’t received.
What are the risks of using PayPal?
While it is generally safe to send money using PayPal, it does come with risks. Like many online platforms, especially those with a large volume of financial and personal information, PayPal is a popular target for dangerous hackers, criminals, and other scammers. The most common security threats are phishing and identity fraud.
Fraudsters use a number of different PayPal scams to try and gain access to personally identifiable information (PII) that can help them commit identity theft or take over your account to make purchases on websites you’ve visited.
Most of these PayPal scams use phishing emails to get users to click on malicious links to infect their devices or trick users into confirming their login or shipping details. For example, a scammer may pretend to be from PayPal and ask a customer to share personal information or download software (that’s malware) onto their device.
Another common scam is sending an email that looks like it’s coming from PayPal asking you to resolve an account issue. When you click on the link in the email, you’ll be sent to a fake, pharming website that looks like PayPal but is actually controlled by the scam artist. When you enter your login details, the scammer gets your information to get into your real account.
According to PayPal, the following red flags can help you spot phishing scams:
- Generic greetings: PayPal always uses the full name listed on your account, so if you see a greeting like “Dear customer” or “Hello PayPal member,” you’re most likely looking at a scam email.
- Bad grammar: Many phishing messages are poorly written and may contain misspellings, typos, and incorrect grammar.
- Fake URLs: Scam emails and texts will most likely point you to an unsafe website, so make sure you carefully check the URL, the spelling of the company name, and whether the email came from a domain other than PayPal.
- Attachments: Beware of emails that come with attachments, because they can contain viruses or other malware that will infect your device. Open an attachment only if you are 100% sure about what it is and who is sending it.
- Fast action and warnings: Messages that contain warnings about your account being compromised could be scams. The best way to confirm your account or check activity is to do it directly from the PayPal app. You can also enter PayPal’s website address directly into a new browser window.
- Requests for personal information: PayPal never asks for sensitive information by email, text, or phone. Never share your account information, passwords, credit card numbers, or validation codes with someone else.
You can find more security tips on PayPal’s website.
Is it better to link a credit card or a bank account to PayPal?
Wondering if it’s safe to link your bank account or your debit card to PayPal? It is safe to link PayPal to your bank account or debit card, but, for insurance reasons, it’s usually better to use a credit card when making online purchases.
Linking your bank account could put you at high risk if someone gets into your account. You have to report fraudulent transactions to PayPal within 180 days, and you can only get a refund if the transaction is eligible.
Credit cards offer additional fraud protection policies that safeguard you against unauthorized transactions, including any that might happen from your PayPal account. Many credit cards come with zero liability protection against fraudulent charges. Plus, under US federal law, consumers are not liable for more than $50 for charges made with lost or stolen card information.
But, one reason to consider using PayPal when purchasing online is that your payment information is stored only in one place. No system is completely safe online, no matter how reputable the company is. But if your data is compromised, with PayPal you’ll only need to update your password or change your card on one platform instead of trying to update it everywhere you shop or pay.
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