How to Detect a PayPal Scam Message?

The number of PayPal scams has been growing like crazy and you should know how to spot one...

PayPal scams

With more than 400 million active users as of 2021, PayPal is one of those services many of us rely on on a regular basis. Personally, if there is an option to make an online payment with PayPal, I always opt for that. Simply put, I feel more secure that way as PayPal already has my credit card details.

The problem is that with every success comes a set of challenges. In the case of PayPal, this means that hackers are exploiting the popularity of the service to launch phishing attacks on users across the world.

With this article, we want to help you spot a PayPal scam email so that you don’t end up as a victim of such an attack. Read on for details…

Signs of a PayPal scam

The main defense against a PayPal scam — and any other phishing email for that matter — is to know that it’s a scam. And there are several signs that point in that direction, including:

Generic greeting
Instead of referring to you with your full name, PayPal scams tend to include wording such as “Hello PayPal user” or “Dear customer.” This is an automatic red flag and you should simply delete such an email. Scammers send these messages to millions of people and in most cases, they don’t have even the basic user information — so they’re opting for generic greetings.

Request for information
Like any other respectable organization, PayPal will never ask its users for financial information or account details via email. In contrast, scam emails tend to put such requests front and center in an email. You should never ever provide any private information via email. If you need to update something, you should do that from PayPal’s website by visiting paypal.com (rather than clicking on a link in the email, which could lead you to a fake website).

Request for software update
Similar to the previous point, it is not up to PayPal to remind you to update the software running on your device. They run a web-based operation that also offers apps for a few platforms, but even those apps would be updated from the official app store — and not by downloading an app from some website. If you do proceed, you could get malware.

Request for a tracking number
This one targets sellers who use PayPal, asking them to provide a tracking number of a dispatched item. Again, PayPal won’t do anything similar and if there is a notification that requires an action on your behalf, you would have to make all changes on PayPal’s website.

What to do when you spot a scam?

We’ve briefly mentioned that you should delete the message, but you could also forward the original scam email to spoof@paypal.com. You should not change the subject line or forward the message as an attachment. This way, you will inform PayPal on the latest scam, thus helping them take appropriate action and potentially save other people from harm.

Once you do that, you can delete the email, knowing that you did your part in making the world a slightly better place.

And if you’re a seller using PayPal, you should sign-up for their Seller Protection Program and get a reimbursement if you become the victim of fraud.

Don’t forget to use a VPN

A VPN will NOT protect you against phishing scams as they end up in your mailbox, but it will encrypt all communication going from your device(s) and the rest of the Internet. This way, hackers will not be able to intercept your traffic and potentially get ahold of your personal information.

Furthermore, a VPN will also help you protect your privacy online, making it hard if not impossible for cookies and other tracking technologies to know your web whereabouts.

It is one of the tools everyone should have in his/her security arsenal these days. For better or worse, it’s just the world we live in. Start by visiting our page with Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there…