10 PayPal Scams to Watch Out

December 25th · 9 min read

Guardio Research Team
Guardio Research Team

PayPal is a financial tool that allows you to seamlessly and securely transact online without having to enter your sensitive financial information on almost every website. Thanks to its facilities and security, PayPal has become one of the most popular ways of making digital transactions worldwide. You can either link your credit card and bank account to PayPal for a secure money pool or shop at retailers who accept PayPal. With Paypal, you may send money to other users from 200 countries worldwide. While PayPal is a secure way to send and receive money, scammers have found ways to exploit users and steal their data or money. Scams involving PayPal have become increasingly common, so PayPal users need to learn how to protect themselves.

What is a PayPal scam?

PayPal scams are rampant and come in various forms, such as emails, phishing sites, malicious ads, suspicious links, etc. These emails, links, and fake sites, usually look official and are hard to identify, as scammers are constantly improving their tactics to trick users into illegally giving up private data or collecting payments. While there are many PayPal scams, some are more common than others. Knowing the most common PayPal scams is essential to identify red flags that can help you avoid becoming a victim. The consequences of PayPal scams include financial loss, and the chances of getting your money back are next to nil. Users must know that reporting any suspicious email or link related to PayPal will help the company to crack down on these scams.

Most common PayPal scams

Although all scams should be avoided, some are more prevalent than others. The following are some of the most common types to be aware of.

The "check your order status" scam

Most PayPal scams use phishing emails to pretend they are from the company's team. In the "check your order status" scam, criminals create a fake email address that pretends to be from PayPal. They will send you an email that appears to be an order confirmation for a recent purchase. In this email, scammers will include a link. They will ask you to check the status of your order by clicking on the link and providing your account information, such as email and password. Once you have entered that information into the fake site, the attacker can see your logging credentials and use them to make purchases, withdraw money or carry out other attacks.

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"There is a problem with your account" scam

In this type of scam, you may receive a phishing email saying there is a problem with your PayPal account. In this scam, you will also receive a link that you must click to log in to your PayPal account to recover it. The link will take you to a copied PayPal website. As soon as you enter your login credentials on the fake site, the scammers immediately receive your information. This data allows them to access and use your PayPal account without permission. These types of scams are called social engineering attacks, designed to trick you into giving someone access to your PayPal account.

Unsolicited payment request scam

Some scammers create profiles that look identical to actual people or businesses, including stealing their usernames and profile pictures. In this scam, attackers send unexpected payment or transfer requests pretending to be a legitimate company or person. Before accepting it:

  1. Look closely at the message. You will probably find an inconsistency that alerts you to a possible attack attempt.
  2. If you accept the scammer's request, report it immediately to PayPal, even though there is no guarantee will receive a refund.
  3. If you need to make payments, initiate the transaction and never accept unsolicited payment or transfer requests on PayPal.

Release your fund's scam

With this scam, you'll receive an email stating that someone deposited money into your PayPal account. So, to release the funds, you must click on the link in the email. With how incredibly believable these PayPal scams can look, it's easy to get taken advantage of if you're not careful. Unfortunately, the link in the scam email leads you to another fake PayPal site. If you input your PayPal login information on this site, the scammers will have access to your PayPal account. Worse yet, some of these links may automatically download malware onto your device without you even realizing it.

"Reset your password" scam

Be extra careful of fake password reset alerts from scammers who try to imitate PayPal. If your receive a password reset email or text from PayPal without requesting a password change, it is likely to be a scam. If you doubt, you can log in directly through PayPal's app or website and change your password. If you click on the attached link in a text message or email, you can share your login information without realizing it or end up downloading malware.

Fake charity scam

One of the most common PayPal scams is when fake charities solicit donations from unsuspecting users. The fraudster will create a webpage imitating a charity organization, then contact victims asking for donations via PayPal. Unfortunately, scammers will send fake confirmation emails and receipts to make it look like the transaction went through when they stole your money. As fake charity sites get more convincing, it's essential to be aware of how to spot phoney donation scams. By doing so, you can avoid falling victim to them.

Unsolicited transfer scam

Beware if you receive an unsolicited PayPal transfer, especially for a large amount of money. This could be a scam where fraudsters use your funds to cover expenses. They may even message you afterwards, pretending it was all a mix-up and asking for the money back. Please don't fall for it! The best thing to do is report it immediately so that other people don't make the same mistake.

Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Fake shipping address scam

Always verify the shipping address when you sell something online to avoid being scammed. Some scammers will purchase goods through PayPal but use an invalid delivery address, which can leave you out of pocket. When the shipping company marks a package as undeliverable, the scammer contacts the shipping company to change the address. They also request a refund from PayPal for the undelivered order. So you end up sending your product without receiving any payment.

The "fake customer support" scam

This scam call centre will try to get your PayPal login details or other personal information or make you navigate a website full of malware. With this scam, you'll likely receive an email saying there's been "suspicious activity" detected on your PayPal account related to a pretty high transaction. The email you receive will direct you to call a number that looks like PayPal customer support to cancel the fraudulent transaction.

PayPal Scams to Watch Out

Overpayment scam

Not only do PayPal scams victimize regular users, but criminals specifically target retailers and sellers who use PayPal. A fraudster will commit this scam by overpaying for an item using a fake or stolen credit card or bank account number. They will then contact the seller to ask for the return of the overpaid amount, which is typically sent to a different account than the one used to make the initial payment. After the scammer obtains a refund, they will contact PayPal to cancel the original transaction, leaving a satisfactory resolution null and void for both parties: The seller no longer has their product or payment.

How can I avoid being scammed on PayPal?

  1. Only give out your information if you are 100% sure the site is legitimate.
  2. While browsing the Internet, always use a secure browser and ensure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed.
  3. Install browser protection software like Guardio that protects you from fake sites and prevents you from phishing emails.
  4. Do every password or account update directly on the PayPal website or app.
  5. Make sure your customers are who they say they are by looking for valid credentials. Check to see that their appearance or behavior does not misrepresent them, and always get signature confirmation.
  6. After getting an email from PayPal, check the email address rather than the sender's name to ensure it's real. If unsure, open a new tab and log into your account to double-check the details.
  7. With PayPal's Seller Protection Program, you can rest assured that you'll be covered against certain types of fraud.
  8. Anytime you log into your PayPal account or complete a financial transaction, always use a secure connection by verifying that the URL in your browser's address bar begins with HTTPS:// (the "s" stands for secure).
  9. PayPal is not a company that collects your personal information. If you receive an email from PayPal asking for personal information to process a payment or refund, please do not provide this information. PayPal does not store this data and cannot access it without explicit permission from the user.

Is it safe to use PayPal?

PayPal is mostly safe to use when sending money. However, systems are only partially risk-free. With the Internet being as prevalent as it is in today's society, companies are likely to experience glitches and data breaches, even if they're some of the best businesses out there. Overall, PayPal is a reliable company that takes measures to protect its users from fraud and other online risks. Your private information is protected from curious onlookers as long as you properly connect to the official PayPal site, which is secure and encrypted. PayPal employs state-of-the-art security features, and the company even offers cash prizes ­to ethical hackers who discover vulnerabilities. Frequently, using PayPal is safer than inputting your credit card number or bank account information directly into the website you're buying from. Your information stays in one place with PayPal rather than being shared across different sites. Like any other payment app, there is some degree of risk when using PayPal. In 2020, 16.6% of fraud reports to the Federal Trade Commission involved PayPal or another payment app. It's essential to understand the risks of using these apps before deciding. As a customer, you have certain rights and protections that can help you if something goes wrong.

If someone hacks your PayPal and steals money, here is what to do

You can take steps to recover your PayPal account if it has been hacked. You can take specific steps to recover your PayPal account through the PayPal website. Keep the following in mind when going through this process.

  • Change your passwords.
  • Resetting your security questions is an easy way to add an extra layer of protection.
  • Two-factor authentication can make it much more difficult for hackers to break into your account and access your information in the future.
  • Report the fraud to PayPal.
  • Explain the problem to your credit card and banking companies.
  • Monitor your account constantly for potential fraud.

Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

Verified by Google Chrome.

Instant Results.

4.6/5 based on 3,127+ Trustpilot reviews

All things considered

PayPal is a safe and secure platform for making online transactions. With robust fraud protection measures and a wide range of security features, it can help you stay protected from hackers and other online threats. That said, it's vital to safeguard your account, including changing your passwords regularly, using two-factor authentication whenever possible, and reporting any suspicious activity immediately. Additionally, it's always a good idea to be vigilant when making financial transactions online and to use common sense when assessing websites or emails that may pose risks. With the proper precautions, using PayPal can help keep you secure while buying or selling online.

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