How Do I Recognize PayPal™ Scams?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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PayPal™ scams are an everyday occurrence, but you can virtually eliminate the chance of becoming a victim by familiarizing yourself with the most widespread scams. These scams frequently start with an email that asks you to log in or download an attachment or asks for personal information, or the email may purport to sell an item for more money than it is worth. The real PayPal™ company states that it will never ask for personal information via email or ask its customers to download a file. In addition, be very suspicious of anyone who offers to buy a product posted on Ebay®, Craigslist®, or other website for more than the asking price. It is most definitely a scam, and the tip-off should be that he or she does not want to deal locally or go through the usual payment exchange through the website on which the item is posted.


Scammers asking for personal information in order to log into and take over an account is not a new thing. In fact, outright asking for login information while claiming to work for PayPal™ works often enough that some scammers do not bother making the email look official. Usually, however, these emails look official but start with “Dear PayPal™ Customer” or a variant instead of using your full name or company name. PayPal™ recommends forwarding the email to and then deleting it. If there is a link present, do not click on it, as it will most likely lead to a fake PayPal™ website that gathers login information.

Similar PayPal™ scams started by email also usually ask for login information or gather it via a fake website. In one PayPal™ scam, the scammer asks the PayPal™ customer to download an attachment for security or similar reasons. This file is usually designed to gather PayPal™ login information, but depending on the software installed, it might be able to gather all login information entered into that computer. Again, the best way to stop a PayPal™ scammer is to forward the email to PayPal™, but you can also raise awareness of PayPal™ scams among friends and family.

Other PayPal™ scams might be less obvious to most people. One scam often involves large amounts of money and starts with a PayPal™ customer attempting to sell an item on Craigslist®, Ebay®, or other popular Internet shops. The scammer then sends a message offering to give the seller more money than he or she was asking, but refuses to pay in cash or go through the Internet shop’s normal payment process. If the seller agrees, the scammer receives the item and then gets the charge overturned. This PayPal™ scam generally does not work if the seller sends the item to the address on the scammer’s Paypal account after waiting until the payment clears and documents that the package was sent.


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