In 2022, PayPal chief financial officer John Rainey admitted that there were over 4 million illegitimate PayPal accounts. Such statistics make it clear that PayPal scams are a real threat. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take not to get scammed on PayPal.
But before we get into the details of how not to get scammed on PayPal, let’s look at some of the indicators of a potential scam.
How to Identify a PayPal Scam
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Most scams have certain characteristics that give them away. Here are some of the red flags you should watch out for:
1. Unofficial Email Address
A scammer may send emails with an unofficial PayPal email address, such as one ending in “paypalcenter.org” or “paypal-service.net” rather than a legitimate address ending in “paypal.com.”
Official communication from PayPal will always be sent from paypal.com. Therefore, if you receive emails from an address ending in something other than paypal.com, it is most likely a scam.
2. Generic Greetings
Another way to identify a potential scam is by looking for generic greetings such as “Dear PayPal user” or “Hello valued customer.” Genuine communication from PayPal will usually include your first name or the business name you used to register with PayPal.
The generic greetings show that the sender is trying to target multiple victims at once and doesn’t have your personal information. Most scammers send standardized messages to thousands of people, hoping to get a few victims.
3. Poorly Written Message
If you receive an email with poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and other errors, it is likely not from PayPal. The real company would take more care over their written communication and ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
Apart from that, a scam email may also contain links to websites with non-PayPal URLs. So, if you receive an email with a suspicious link or from an unfamiliar source, it is best to avoid clicking on it.
4. Sense of Urgency
Have you ever received an email saying you must act quickly to receive a reward, or it will be withdrawn? Be wary if someone is trying to create a sense of urgency and desperation in their request. Genuine communication from PayPal would never pressure you into taking any action immediately.
Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency in their emails by stating that you should take immediate action or your account will be suspended. Such emails are usually a sign that the sender is trying to get you to act quickly before you have time to realize it is a scam.
5. Requests to Provide Sensitive Information
PayPal would never ask you to provide sensitive information such as your bank account details or Social Security number. If someone emails you and requests such information, it is a scam.
Another common trick scammers use is to use the PayPal logo on their website or in the email they send out. A genuine PayPal site will have a secure URL that begins with “https://,” and clicking on the logo should take you to a legitimate PayPal page.
6. Too-good-to-be-true Deals
In an era of endless emails and social media ads, it is easy to be tempted by too-good-to-be-true deals. If an offer looks too good to be true, take caution. Be wary of any email that promises you quick money or free goods in exchange for providing your PayPal information.
The Most Common PayPal Scams
Now that you know how to spot the warning signs of a scam, let’s look at some of the most common PayPal scams:
1. Phishing Scams
Scammers can try to get your personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, by pretending to be a legitimate company. They usually do this through emails or text messages that contain malicious links.
If you click the link and enter your information, scammers can use it to access your accounts or steal your money.
2. Fake Invoices
Swindlers fake invoices and send them out in an attempt to get your money. If you receive an invoice that looks suspicious, you should contact the company directly before making any payments.
3. Payment for Unfulfilled Orders
This occurs when a customer orders goods or services but does not receive them. The scammers then ask the customer to pay using PayPal but they never deliver. To avoid this scam, use trusted merchants and read the company reviews before making any payments.
4. Charity Scams
PayPal allows customers to donate using the platform. It is important to ensure the organization is legitimate before donating money. Scammers often try to exploit people’s generosity by setting up fake charities and asking for donations.
5. Debt Collection Scams
Have you ever received emails claiming you owe a debt and asking you to make payment via PayPal? Such emails are usually scams, as they often contain fake contact information or even threats of legal action. You should ignore such emails and delete them immediately.
6. Payment Requests for Fake Job Offers
Why would a company that wants to hire you ask for payment? Swindlers can pretend to offer job opportunities and ask you to pay a fee before they can give you the job. Be wary of any such offers, as no legitimate company would ever require you to pay for an interview or a job.
7. Escrow Service Scams
Some scammers pretend to offer escrow services to gain access to your money or personal information. PayPal does not offer any kind of escrow service. If you receive an email offering such a service, it will likely be a scam.
8. Lottery or Prize Scams
Who doesn’t love the idea of winning a lottery or a prize? Unfortunately, swindlers often use this promise as bait to get your personal information. If you receive an email telling you you have won a lottery or prize, verify the source before providing any details.
How to Not Get Scammed on PayPal as a Buyer or Seller
Whether you’re a buyer or seller, these tips can help protect you from getting scammed on PayPal:
1. Don’t Click on Unsolicited Links
If you receive an email with links to a suspicious website, do not click it. Instead, type the web address into your browser to ensure you are visiting the correct website.
Link cloaking is a technique used to hide malicious links, so it’s best to avoid clicking on any unverified link. Google may warn you if the website you’re visiting is potentially malicious.
You can also install an internet security program to detect any potential threats. This will help protect you from any malicious websites or programs.
Scammers create fake versions of legitimate websites to trick you into entering your information.
2. Avoid Sharing Sensitive PayPal Information
Never give out your PayPal username and password or other sensitive information such as your bank account details, credit card numbers, or Social Security number. Crooks can use this information to access your PayPal account or to commit identity theft.
PayPal advises customers not to respond to emails asking for sensitive information, as these are likely phishing scams. You can report suspicious emails to PayPal for further investigation.
Two-factor authentication is also a great way to protect your PayPal account. With two-factor authentication, you will need to enter a code sent to your mobile device and enter your password.
3. Buy from Reputable Sellers
If you want not to be scammed on PayPal as a buyer, it is important to purchase from reputable sellers. Check the seller’s reviews and feedback before making a purchase.
PayPal also offers Buyer Protection for eligible purchases. The program covers refunds for eligible items that may not have been delivered or were significantly different from their description.
PayPal’s Buyer Protection program is designed to cover you in the event that a purchase doesn’t arrive or match its description. The program also covers payments made with PayPal Credit and debit cards.
To be eligible for the protection, buyers must first file a claim within 180 days of making their payment. If the seller does not respond within 10 days, PayPal will investigate the claim and make a decision.
4. Avoid Tricks and Traps
Be aware of any potential tricks or traps that scammers may try to use. For example, some swindlers will ask you to pay for service via PayPal but then direct you to a different website to complete the transaction. This is called ‘payment diversion.’
Frequently Asked Questions
Will PayPal refund me if I get scammed?
A: PayPal can refund you if you get scammed. The platform has a Buyer Protection policy for eligible purchases. Contact customer service for assistance if you believe you have been scammed on PayPal. They can help you with filing a dispute or reclaiming your money.
Is PayPal safe to receive money from strangers?
A: Yes, PayPal is generally safe to receive money from a stranger. However, you should be cautious when accepting payments from someone you don’t know. If the payment seems suspicious or too good to be true, investigate further before completing the transaction.
What should I do if I think I have been scammed?
If you believe you have been scammed on PayPal, contact customer service for assistance. They can help you with filing a dispute or reclaiming your money. You should also report any suspicious activity to law enforcement if necessary.
Can you get scammed on Paypal?
It is possible to get scammed on PayPal. However, PayPal offers several layers of protection to help prevent fraud and scams. It is important to take extra steps to protect yourself, such as verifying the seller’s identity and researching potential scams before completing a transaction.
PayPal is an incredibly convenient and secure way to send and receive money online, but be aware of potential scams. By taking the necessary steps to protect your account from scammers and fraudulent activity, you ensure your transactions remain safe and secure.