PayPal Scams (7 Examples + How to Avoid Them)

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Just imagine scrolling through your inbox only to get an email notifying you that your PayPal account is compromised! PayPal scams are becoming increasingly common and more complex.

PayPal scams dupe users of the platform for some quick bucks. From package rerouting scams, business/job opportunities, and shipping scams to employment scams and reshipping packages scams, there’s no limit to what fraudsters can do to get your money.

The good thing is that with the right information, you can identify and avoid falling victim to any PayPal hoax.

Venmo and CashApp have similar scams, so you can check out our posts about those too.

1) Shipping Scams

Let’s start our list of scams with shipping scams.

The scam involves someone asking you to use their shipping account. They might claim it’s because they can get a discount, have a favorite shipping company they’ve used for years, or believe their chosen service is cheaper and more reliable.

Scammers might also request you to wire the shipping fees to their preferred shipper.

If you agree to use the buyer’s shipping account, they can easily contact the shipping company and change the delivery address.

This sets the stage for a scam – the scammer can then complain that they didn’t receive their order, leaving you in a difficult spot. You won’t be able to prove the delivery, and you’ll lose not only your product but also the shipping costs and your money.

In another twist to this scam, if the scammer asks you to wire money to a fake shipping company, you risk losing your money altogether. After wiring the money, you might discover that the order was placed using a stolen credit card or bank account.

In such cases, you could be held responsible for returning the funds to the legitimate customer whose account was stolen.

Always use your own shipping account to avoid complications. Never wire money to someone you don’t know, as it’s challenging to recover.

If a customer insists on using their shipping service, carefully review their order for potential fraud. They might have used a stolen card or bank account for the purchase. Ensure to ship to the address specified on the Transaction Details page to stay secure.

2) Reshipping Packages Scam

The reshipping packages scam, a prevalent work-from-home scheme that involves shipping various items, such as electronics and clothing, outside the United States.

In this scam, you receive packages containing items such as electronics, jewelry, or clothing and are instructed to send them to an international destination. The packages may be addressed to someone else’s name, often the victim of a stolen credit card.

The so-called “employer” in this scam provides you with a shipping label, purportedly paid for with a stolen credit card.

To add a layer of deception, they request personal information such as your Social Security Number and bank account details under the guise of facilitating a “direct deposit” for your compensation.

Most legitimate merchants refrain from shipping items internationally, making your role crucial for fraudsters who aim to move goods across borders without detection. Your personal information, handed over to the scammer, can be misused to steal your identity or compromise your accounts.

3) Employment Scam

Employment scams involve someone approaching you with a seemingly fantastic business opportunity, often involving selling high-value products like cameras.

The scam unfolds as follows – a fraudster convinces you to use the money from product orders to pay their supposed supplier. They’ve likely pre-informed the supplier that you’ll be sending the payment.

To further deceive you, they instruct you to update your PayPal account address to what appears as a regular address but is, in fact, a P.O. box owned by the scammer.

After you’ve paid the supplier, issues arise. Customers start complaining that they didn’t receive their purchased items and instead received an empty box.

When you contact the supplier, they claim your partner indicated you were sending money for gold bullion, not cameras.

To compound the problem, you find yourself filing a complaint against the supplier for the cameras you paid for. Unfortunately, you learn that you may be held liable for the money since the supplier delivered the merchandise to your PayPal account address.

If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid listing someone else’s address on your PayPal account, verify the legitimacy of suppliers, and refrain from sending money to unfamiliar individuals.

Ship items only to the address specified on the transaction details page and stay alert if asked to ship numerous packages overseas or to the same post office box.

Report any suspicious email or website to [email protected] for investigation. In case of an unauthorized transaction, promptly notify the Resolution Center within 180 days to report and resolve the issue.

4) Invoice And Money Request Scams

Invoice and money request scams can take various forms, each aiming to deceive you through PayPal transactions.

One common scenario involves receiving an invoice or money request on PayPal for a product, service, or cryptocurrency that you never ordered.

Another tactic scammers might employ is to send a note in the invoice or money request, urging you to contact their fake customer service number.

Scammers might send fake invoices via email, cleverly impersonating genuine PayPal messages. These deceptive emails can mislead you into believing you owe someone money or need to make an urgent payment.

It’s important to exercise caution and scrutinize such messages to avoid falling victim to these scams. Be wary of any communication that displays a sense of urgency, pressuring you to call a specified number promptly to resolve an alleged issue with your PayPal account.

Avoid making a payment if you receive a suspicious invoice or money request or calling any phone numbers provided in the invoice note, as they are likely to lead to fake customer service representatives.

The second thing I’d recommend is to refrain from opening any URLs included in suspicious messages, as they could direct you to phishing websites designed to collect your personal and financial information.

If you encounter a suspicious invoice or money request, report the incident promptly. You can do this by logging in to the official PayPal website or using the PayPal app.

5) High Profit – No-Risk Investments

These scams promise high profits with no risks, often accompanied by urgent messages prompting you to “Act Now!” Fraudsters present enticing offers that seem too good to pass up, luring you into a false sense of financial gain.

The urgency created by phrases like “Act Now!” is a tactic employed to push you into quick decision-making without proper consideration.

If you come across such a scheme, be wary of persuasive messages and elaborate promises. These scammers may exploit your eagerness for financial success, leading you to invest without a clear understanding of the risks involved.

It’s crucial to recognize that genuine investments come with inherent uncertainties, and any offer guaranteeing high profits without risk is likely a fraudulent attempt to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.

6) Business/Job Opportunities

Some tricksters create fake job offers, which they post on job websites, dating platforms, and send through spam emails. These scams often lure you in with promising job positions, making it seem like a great opportunity.

They might use attractive language to grab your attention and make the job sound amazing. However, these offers are deceitful and can lead to various scams.

If you fall for these fake job postings, you might end up providing personal information that can be misused or even paying fees for a job that doesn’t exist.

Fraudsters might also use these opportunities to initiate phishing attacks, attempting to gather sensitive details from unsuspecting victims. To protect yourself, be skeptical of job offers that seem too good to be true.

Verify the legitimacy of the company by researching it independently. Avoid sharing personal information or paying any fees upfront, as reputable employers do not usually require these actions during the hiring process.

7) Package Rerouting Scams

The package rerouting scam starts when a buyer places an order and deliberately provides an incorrect or fake shipping address. The shipping company attempts to deliver the package but faces difficulties due to the inaccurate information.

Sensing the failed delivery, the buyer actively monitors the online tracking details and takes advantage of the situation.

The buyer contacts your shipping company, claiming an error in the address, and requests the package be sent to the ‘correct’ location.

Subsequently, the shipping company reroutes the package to the new address provided by the buyer. Seizing this opportunity, the buyer then files a complaint, asserting they never received the item.

Due to the rerouting, you find yourself unable to prove that the item was delivered to the address specified on the Transaction Details page.

Consequently, the buyer retains both the item and the money, leaving you with a loss of product, shipping fees, and monetary investment. Adding to the blow, you might also be required to pay an additional rerouting fee to the shipping company.

How to Identify PayPal Scams

If you get a message and aren’t sure it is from PayPal, check for the following:

Uses generic or impersonal greetings such as ‘’Dear [your email address]’’ or “Dear user” – Genuine emails from PayPal addresses you by your first and last names or business name. Always verify the sender’s email address and double-check the information provided in the email before taking any actions.

PayPal will never ask you to disclose sensitive information such as your password or financial details via email.

If you are uncertain about the legitimacy of an email claiming to be from PayPal, it is advisable to contact PayPal directly through their official website or customer support channels.

Asks you to click links that lead you to a fake website – It is prudent to always check and verify links in an email before clicking on them.

A legit link looks perfectly secure such as Move your mouse over the link to verify the true destination. Avoid clicking the link if you aren’t sure.

Conveys some sense of urgency – Often, phishing emails are alarmist, sending warnings to update your account immediately. Scammers hope that you’ll fall for the sense of urgency and ignore the warning signs that the email is fake.

If at all there’s any urgent need to complete anything on your account, you can get this information by directly logging into PayPal.

Contains unknown attachments – You should only open attachments if you’re certain they’re secure and legitimate. Be cautious of invoices from contractors and companies you aren’t familiar with. Some attachments have viruses that self-install when you open them.

How Paypal Protects Its Users From Scams

Paypal Buyer Protection

  • Coverage – Buyer Protection is designed to protect buyers who use PayPal for eligible purchases. It covers tangible goods that can be shipped and intangible items that are delivered electronically.
  • Disputes and claims – If a buyer believes that an item they purchased is significantly not as described or doesn’t arrive, they can file a dispute through the PayPal Resolution Center. The buyer should initiate the dispute within the specified timeframe.
  • Resolution process – PayPal provides a platform for communication between the buyer and the seller to attempt to resolve the issue. If an agreement cannot be reached, the buyer can escalate the dispute to a claim within a certain timeframe.
  • Refunds – If the claim is found in favor of the buyer, PayPal may refund the full purchase amount, including shipping costs, if applicable.

Paypal Seller Protection

  • Eligibility criteria – Seller Protection is available to sellers who meet certain criteria. These criteria can include shipping to the address provided by the buyer on the PayPal transaction details page and responding to PayPal’s requests for documentation and information.
  • Unauthorized transactions – Unauthorized transactions protects sellers against unauthorized transactions as long as they ship to the address provided by PayPal.
  • Item not received (INR) – INR protects sellers against claims for items not received if they can provide valid proof of shipment or delivery.
  • Significantly Not as Described (SNAD) – Sellers are protected against SNAD claims if they can demonstrate that the item was accurately described in the listing or if the buyer returns the item in the same condition it was received.

PayPal provides a secure and convenient platform for online transactions, users must remain vigilant to the ever-evolving landscape of PayPal scams.

Both buyers and sellers should familiarize themselves with PayPal’s buyer and seller protection policies, understanding the eligibility criteria and following best practices outlined by the platform.

Timely reporting of suspicious activities or unauthorized transactions is key to leveraging PayPal’s dispute resolution mechanisms effectively.

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