Is there a PayPal scam going around? What is a PayPal scam? If you’re a regular PayPal user, take note: Scammers are regularly targeting PayPal and its customer base. These scams can affect all types of PayPal users, including individuals making purchases, people receiving personal payments from friends and family, and the self-employed using PayPal for business.
Is there a PayPal scam going around?
Digital payment systems like PayPal are more popular than ever, and scammers are following the money. Here’s what you can do to guard against them.
With more than 400 million users and counting, PayPal is an attractive target for scammers. Many online scams that involve payment apps—including Cash App, Venmo, OfferUp and Zelle scams—bank on the fact that users don’t understand how these services work or use them carelessly, leaving users vulnerable to bad actors looking to steal their money, financial information and more.
That doesn’t mean you need to delete your PayPal account, though. You can still take advantage of all the features PayPal has to offer by using it smartly and knowing how to spot the signs of a scam. To help you do just that, we got the download from cybersecurity experts on what PayPal scams to look out for and how to avoid them.
A brief overview of PayPal scams
In this article, we will explore the most common PayPal scams, including:
- Advanced fee scams: These encourage users to send a small fee in order to receive a much larger return.
- Scam emails: These emails will notify you that something is wrong with your account, providing you with a link to click on, which leads to a phishing website.
- “Friendly name” email scams: In these email scams, a person will use a friendly-looking display name; in this case, one that looks legitimately related to PayPal. This scam helps to bypass email spam filters.
- Phishing websites: This refers to a website that looks like the official PayPal website but is, in fact, a fake one set up by scammers. By entering your details on one of these sites, you will provide them to the scammer.
- Fake hyperlink scams: These are links, that may be present within scam emails, that claim to point to the official PayPal website but which will actually take you to a phishing website.
- Fake charities: This involves scammers pretending to be from a charity, asking for a ‘donation’ to help a particular cause.
- Overpayment scams: This is when an individual scammer making a purchase from a vendor overpays for the product or service and asks to be reimbursed for the overpayment but with the money sent to a different account. The account they made the purchase with is likely stolen, whereas the other account is the one they will profit from.
How to avoid being scammed on PayPal
The easiest way to protect yourself against PayPal scams is to be vigilant. If you receive an email claiming to be from PayPal, ignore any links it contains and visit the site directly to see if there are any issues. Also, scammers like to offer more money than was asked for so that you can cover made-up fees or shipping charges. You can sidestep this by simply refusing to negotiate when selling items online.
It’s a good idea to install a reputable antivirus program too. This way, if you do accidentally download malware from a phishing email, you can quarantine the threat and delete it before it does too much damage.
What is a PayPal scam?
PayPal scams can come in the form of emails, phishing sites, malicious ads, suspicious links, and more. Such scams are designed to look official in order to trick users into giving up private data, such as usernames and passwords, or to illegitimately collect payments. Numerous PayPal scams exist, but there are several that you’re more likely to run into.
PayPal scammers are improving their methods all the time, so that it becomes increasingly difficult to tell that a fake PayPal email, link, or site is, in fact, fake. If you’re not careful and attentive, you can easily fall into the trap of treating a scam as legitimately connected to PayPal. And the result could potentially be a significant financial loss, with no means of getting the money back. If you are ever suspicious about an email or link related to PayPal, it’s important to report it. Doing so will help PayPal to crack down on these scams.
How to avoid advanced fee scams
Thankfully, your email service provider filters out the vast majority of these types of scams. If you check your email spam folder, you may even be able to find a few of them (we sure did).
However, if an email asking you to make some type of advanced payment in order to receive a greater reward does elude your spam filter, pay attention to the warning signs. The email address likely won’t be from a verified or legitimate business or service, and likely won’t match the name, organization, or government official mentioned in the email text. Additionally, there will likely be a large number of spelling or grammar errors within the body of the email, which is another warning sign that it’s not from a legitimate source.
Overall, however, it’s best not to send advanced payments, especially to individuals you have never met or don’t know. Unless you’re purchasing products through a trusted ecommerce store, donating to a cause, or sending family or friends money, do not trust suspicious sources online requesting money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
How to avoid hacked account scams
It’s almost impossible to tell when a buyer has hacked an account. There’s also little you can do to help prevent this or avoid this situation. A mismatch in buyer account information and where products are getting shipped is normal.
Your best option is to contact PayPal directly. PayPal offers merchant fraud protection for all sellers who utilize PayPal. If you believe a mismatch in payment account information and the requested shipping address looks suspicious, contact PayPal. The company will investigate the issue, and contact the buyer to verify information. It’s also best to delay shipping any items until the issue is resolved.
You may also want to contact the buyer directly through the email address associated with the PayPal account to help verify the account and buyer match.
PayPal also offers advice and information on other types of scams and how to avoid them, here and here.
How to report a PayPal scam
PayPal scams have become so common that there’s now an entire page dedicated to them on the PayPal site. If you’ve come across a scam, you can report the issue directly to PayPal.
The reporting process is a little different if you’ve actually fallen victim to a PayPal scam. You should certainly also report it to PayPal, but you may also want to report it elsewhere too. If you have been scammed out of money or defrauded via PayPal, it’s important that you report the case to local law enforcement. You should also contact your banking institute who can also launch a fraud case of their own. Whether you can be refunded or not will depend entirely on the details of the scam, and unfortunately, it’s not guaranteed.
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