PayPal has become one of the most trusted payment methods, whether it’s a small business’s invoice or at checkout for a major ecommerce website.
Yet, inherently, where there is a site with lots of customers around the world, there are fraudsters and scammers trying to take advantage. Therefore, here are 10 PayPal scams to be aware of!
PayPal Scams In 2024
1. PayPal “Problem With Your Account” Scam
You’re going about your day when you receive an email that says it’s from PayPal, and there is a “problem with your account.”
There’s a link that it wants you to click on, and it looks legit – it even has PayPal.com in the URL.
What you may not be aware of is that this is a phishing attempt, and the site it will take you to is not PayPal at all, but a fraudulent one set up to get your account login information – and worse.
One such example of this email took PayPal customers to a site that even asked for their social security number and mother’s maiden name!
If you were using Gmail and the spam filters didn’t catch this one already, the initial indicator that this is not PayPal is in the sender line.
For the example given, <email@example.com> , while suggesting that it came from PayPal, does not have the correct email server, which would be @paypal.com.
If you catch the error and haven’t been fooled by the email, you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well, you can forward the email to email@example.com, which is the Federal Trade Commission’s database for scam emails.
2. PayPal Fake Fraud Text Scam
Another scam that thieves attempt is to target your phone number with fake, fraudulent alerts.
For example, one might say that there is someone trying to access your account; another might read that there has been suspicious activity on your account.
I have personally received these texts recently, but the dead giveaway that it wasn’t actually PayPal was that the message started with a super long email address.
In any case, the message is followed by a link, which you are supposedly to click to log in to your account and make things right.
However, do not click on the link! PayPal does not notify of suspicious account activity by text.
If you do click on the link, at best, you could be taken to a phishing website where they will collect your account login info.
At worst, you could end up downloading malware that can spy on your every move.
3. PayPal Order Confirmation Scam
Another ploy that scammers try is to send fake Order Confirmation emails that look like they are from PayPal.
The thieves are banking on the fact that you have recently made a purchase, so you’ll click on the link to “check the status” of your order.
If you haven’t made a purchase recently, then it’s easy to disregard the email. However, if you have, proceed with caution.
Does the email address of the sender end with @paypal.com? Is the email free of grammatical and spelling errors?
If not, then don’t click on the link.
4. PayPal Promotional Offer Scam
As nice a company as PayPal is, they don’t just give away money, so you can delete any emails from PayPal advertising a promotional offer.
The emails tend to say that you can get a cash rebate or some other financial reward if you just sign in to your account and “verify a few details.”
Of course, there’s a link, and if you click on it, it will take you to a phishing website where your account login info will be stolen.
5. PayPal Lost Inheritance Scams
One of the oldest tricks in the book, scammers are using PayPal to perpetrate the old “give a little bit upfront, gain a lot later” scam.
The message, which generally comes in the form of an email, says that some old, lost inheritance has been bequeathed to you.
If you will only just send a little bit upfront via PayPal, to cover the processing fee, a humongous sum will be deposited in your account.
While most people can see right through these, the elderly continue to be the majority duped by the old lost inheritance scams.
So, if you have older parents or grandparents, maybe take a moment to talk about scams, don’t click on links, and be more discerning about emails.
6. PayPal Fake Account for Charity Scams
Scammers are the lowest of the low, and they sometimes pose as charities to swindle people out of money – payable by, you guessed it, PayPal.
You can avoid charity scams by first looking to see if the charity is registered with the government, or if the organization has been validated independently.
Most charities these days offer some form of direct payment, made right to the organization, versus through a third-party site like PayPal.
As well, there are investment scams to look out for, like “shares in a resort” for an ultra-low deposit.
You can submit payment via PayPal and voilà, you get access to a tropical bungalow.
Except, there is no tropical bungalow, and you just sent scammers $100 that you will never see again.
Overall, be wary of low-deposit/high-gain schemes and before you make an investment, do your research.
7. PayPal Overpayment Scam
For the small business owners and vendors of goods, the overpayment scam is one to watch out for.
Basically, the scammers initiate a transaction with you over PayPal, but they overpay. They ask you to refund the difference, often to a different account.
It seems innocuous enough, but the scammers are often operating from a hacked account or are using a payment method that was stolen, enabling them to profit.
Plus, if the individual whose account was hacked or payment method was stolen disputes the charges, PayPal could take the money back.
Also, if you sent out the item that was purchased, you’re out both the money and the item.
8. PayPal Shipping Address Scam
Another PayPal scam for small business owners to look out for involves a change of shipping address.
The scammers purchase an item but use a nonexistent address for delivery.
When the shipper marks the item as undeliverable, the scammers call in and give them a valid shipping address, to which the delivery is completed.
However, because the delivery was completed after a blip in the shipping process, the scammers can file a dispute with PayPal, claiming the item was never delivered.
Thus, they get the item and the money, and you, the vendor, are out both.
Therefore, ChargeBackGurus.com recommends checking that each and every shipping address is valid before sending out packages.
Also, they suggest speaking to the shipping company you use to prevent rerouting of packages by customers.
9. PayPal Fake Invoices Scam
Employees at the University of Buffalo received a message recently that scammers were sending fake invoices via PayPal.
The thieves were actually sending out real PayPal invoices, though once paid, the money went to a fraudulent account not associated with the organization it claimed to be.
This was a warning to those who handled invoices regularly, such as receptionists and office assistants.
Some people were paying the invoices – which claimed to be from GoDaddy or the World Health Organization – without a second thought.
The best thing to do in this situation, if you have paid a fraudulent invoice, is to dispute the payment with PayPal.
PayPal’s popularity has made it possible for scammers to take advantage of customers through phishing emails, smishing texts, and even fake invoices.
While some customers can get their money back through PayPal’s dispute process, others should be warned and wary of emails and texts claiming to be from the company.