PayPal Scams to Guard Against
PayPal has grown more and more in popularity since it was originally founded in December 1998. It’s an easy way to pay. You can link different cards and accounts through the site, and you can even gain more time to buy things on credit. It’s fast become a leading method of online payment, and a lot of businesses make use of its services.
However, nothing is entirely secure and safe. How can you protect yourself and your finances from the scammers on one of the most popular online payment sites? Here are some common scams to look out for.
You Get Overpaid for A Product or Service
This scam isn’t limited to just online. Some scammers write fraudulent cheques to prospective landlords, or for goods to purchase, that might be considerably higher than the stated price. After the excess is returned, the cheque bounces and the seller is left out of pocket.
It’s easy to log into your account, check your balance and see that the money is there. But don’t send the excess back to the buyer. Someone truly interested in your goods and services still isn’t going to overpay you. After all, most honest people don’t have that much spare change. And if they do, they’re not likely to get it by overpaying for products or services.
If you do pay back the excess amount, the buyer could report the whole transaction as unauthorized activity on their account. Even if you open a dispute, the scammer will have taken the money and run, and you will be left out of pocket.
If you find yourself in the position of being overpaid for goods or services, the best thing to do is cancel the transaction. Don’t send money to someone you don’t know or trust with no way of tracing it. And certainly, don’t send the excess money to a separate shipping company if the buyer asks you to. If you’re not sure about the buyer’s integrity, check out their reputation on the site you’re using.
An Email Comes from PayPal Telling You That You’ve Been Paid
Most of the time, this is legitimate. PayPal sends you an email telling you that you’ve been sent money. You just need to confirm the transaction by clicking on the link, which takes you to the homepage where you have to input your login details. Simple, right?
Well, this is actually a scam using a phishing email. It’s not dissimilar to those coming from a bank that addresses you as ‘Dear Customer’ when you’ve never even had an account with them. Phishing emails can sometimes be very hard to spot, and once you’ve clicked on a link and signed in with your details, you’ve effectively signed away your account to scammers.
So how can you avoid this scam? Don’t ever click on a link in an email. Always go directly to the website and check your account from there. No matter how official the correspondence might appear, it’s always better to play it safe.
The Buyer Never Received Their Package
This could be legitimate. After all, packages and letters can be lost or delayed. There are a few stories where letters have been delayed for decades. But it is also possible that the buyer has rerouted the package. That the delivery address given to you was fake and the buyer contacted the shipping company to ask them to deliver to a new address. And then, of course, they could claim the package never arrived, and you wouldn’t have anything to prove otherwise.
There are a couple of ways of avoiding this scam. First of all, always make sure that any packages are delivered to the address on the page with the transaction details on it. You can also contact the shipping company directly to request buyers are blocked from re-routing packages.
There are also other shipping scams to watch out for. A buyer might ask you to use their shipping account for a variety of reasons, but it means they can easily change the delivery address and then claim the item was never received.
The Buyer’s Account Was Hacked
In effect, this means that the buyer was the victim of someone using their account to make fraudulent transactions. A hacker will change the email address, password, delivery address…but leave the bank account connected.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if the money’s removed from your account due to the buyer’s account being hacked. If you’re notified fast enough, you might not have sent the product yet. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is try to protect yourself. Insure what you’re selling, if you can. Maybe include a phone number, if the buyer is in the same country as you, so you can speak directly to them.
PayPal Wants You to Send A Tracking Number Before They release Payment
This is similar to the scams involving PayPal emailing you to tell you that you’ve been paid. Only, in this case, you receive an email telling you that the money’s been paid, but the tracking information has to be released before the money will be made available.
PayPal isn’t involved in the shipping, and it doesn’t hold a customer’s money. If you receive an email like this, it’s definitely not from PayPal. More than likely, you’re the victim of an attempted scam and should head in the opposite direction of this particular buyer.
Beware of Sending Money to Fake Charities
A lot of people want to do something worthwhile, and one good thing is to give money to charity. How many times have you been on a site and a pop-up’s asked you to donate money to a worthy cause? And PayPal is a good way of sending money to both people and organisations.
Before you send any money to charities through PayPal, always make sure you search out information on the particular charity. There are a few sites you can use to check if a charity is recognised and it’s often a good idea to donate directly to the charity, rather than through a third-party site.
Beware of ‘Too Good to Be True’ Work from Home Scams
If you’re ’employed’ by a company or person that wants you to ship items out of the United States, be aware that it’s more than likely a scam. Scammers will often get a third party involved to get stolen items out of the country and therefore make it less likely for them to get caught. And your ’employer’ will require your financial details; on the surface to deposit your wages into, but in reality to make you part of the scam.
Another version of this scam is someone contacting you about selling expensive products for them. This involves you using your own account or website to list products for sale, with the agreement that you will send the money to your ‘business partner’s’ supplier for the orders. Inevitably, your buyers won’t receive their products…and you’ll be the one left with unhappy buyers and low ratings as a seller.
Don’t ever give out your financial details to someone online and don’t agree to reship products. Even if you do get paid for doing it, you’re becoming involved in criminal activity. And always make sure you know who you’re sending money to.
Spotting Scam Emails
Many scammers are relying on you to panic when you get an email telling you there’s a problem, such as a suspicious payment on your account or that it’s going to be suspended or put on hold.
Emails from PayPal won’t address you as ‘Customer’ or with your email address. They will use your first and last name, or your business name, and will always come from PayPal.com. Even if the name looks recognisable, always check the email address itself and make sure it’s coming from PayPal itself. Other things to look out for are grammatical or spelling mistakes, as many scam emails have so much more than the real company’s.
PayPal will never ask you to provide sensitive information in the email or send any attachments. And if you’re asked to check something on your account, always come out of the email and go to the site directly.
If there is a link in the email, don’t automatically click on it. Hovering the cursor over the link will show you the true page that you’ll find yourself at.
Scams have been around for a long time, even before the internet. And while there are still some that are easy to spot, there are others that are more sophisticated. Never give out personal information online and don’t send money to anyone who isn’t a verified seller. Beware of accounts that have only been recently created and which have a higher ratio of negative to positive feedback.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Research anything you’re not sure about and don’t be afraid to ask other people for advice or about their own experiences. Don’t click on any links you don’t recognize or download anything that looks even remotely suspicious. Remember that there’s only so much PayPal can do to keep your finances secure.