Learn how to spot and avoid some common PayPal scams
PayPal was founded in December 1998. Since its inception, scammers have developed many different ways to steal money from innocent consumers. We want to help you avoid these scams, keep your money and not go through the hassle of a fraud claim.
PayPal scams usually start with one of these premises:
- Someone claiming there’s been fraud on your account or that you’ve been hacked
- A seller claiming that they’ll refund some of your money as a special incentive for you to purchase from them
- A sweepstakes saying that you won a prize and need to enter your PayPal information to claim it
- A charity looking for a donation from your PayPal account
Then, before you know it, you’re giving up your PayPal information and someone is using your account to make purchases and sending payments with your money.
The tactics below are not just common ways thieves can get you to give up your money and information through PayPal. Scammers can pretend to be from other P2P services (Cash App, Android/Apple Pay, Venmo, Facebook Messenger, etc.). Make sure to keep a close eye on all payment-based communications you receive. Also remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Phony email address PayPal scams
Check out the “from” email address below. It looks like it’s from PayPal, right?
It’s not. It’s from someone at Paypall.com. Scammers often send emails from addresses like this in hopes that you quickly glance it over without seeing the typo. Communication from PayPal will only come from email@example.com. Scammers can also use your email app’s settings to trick you. The email can look like it came from someone with the name of “PayPal Support,” but when you click on it, the actual address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another way to spot fake emails is if they don’t use the official PayPal logo, if they are formatted poorly or if they contain spelling and grammar errors.
One last tip for fake emails is to not click on links in them. These often lead to malicious websites that can harm your device and steal your information.
Phishing website PayPal scams
Much like the phony email addresses, phishing websites will be filled with grammar and spelling errors, bad formatting and bogus URLs. A legit URL will always start with the “paypal.com” domain name. Fake sites will have domains like “support-paypal.com” or “paypal.tech.org.”
In addition to a fake URL, another common tactic scammers use is to make their phishing website look like an older version of PayPal’s homepage. This creates a false sense of security that makes it easy for them to collect usernames, passwords and other information when you fill out the form fields on the website.
Always use PayPal.com or the official mobile app to login to your account.
Fake charity PayPal scams
Just in time for the holidays! You may receive an unsolicited email from someone claiming to work for a charitable organization this holiday season. If that email asks you to donate by sending money to a PayPal account, don’t do it, because your money won’t end up going to anyone who needs it.
Avoid sending money to a fake charity by donating directly through the organization’s site. If the charity doesn’t accept donations online, make sure to research them online and find the proper contact person to learn how you can donate safely.
Social media PayPal scams
Anyone can advertise on Facebook. If you see an ad on your phone that asks you to login to your PayPal account and fill in your details to enter a drawing of some sort, it’s definitely a scam. By clicking on an ad like this on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you will most likely be taken to an unsecure phishing website.
If you see an ad like this, make sure to report it so the social media network can block the scammer from running any more ads.
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- Set up alerts for certain purchases.
- Lock your cards if you believe they’re stolen.
- Report fraud when you think it’s happened.
- And much more