Common PayPal Scams Targeting Buyers (How to Spot & Avoid Them)

PayPal is a convenient and reliable payment platform offered by millions of sellers who are offering their goods and services online. However, not all the sellers are as reliable as we think and sometimes the buyers fall for their scams.

However, as a buyer, if you know what kind of fraudulent scenarios you can face and how to deal with them, you may be able to avoid them. Take a look at these PayPal scams that target buyers and tips to avoid them.

Common PayPal Scams Targeting Sellers

Common PayPal Scams Targeting Sellers

As a seller, PayPal offers a reliable payment platform that allows you to receive payments anytime anywhere. However,... Read more

Sending money as Friends and Family

For completing the payment, the seller may ask you to send the payment as “Friends and Family”. They may further add that this will help them avoid transaction fee and may even entice you with a discount for saving their cost of the fee.

What happens behind the scene

The Friends and Family method is only available for the transaction between your close friends and family members who you trust and are not intending to sell any goods. Therefore, PayPal’s Purchase Protection policy doesn’t apply to this transaction.

If you use this method to buy goods then the seller can refuse from sending the goods to you after receiving the payment. You can’t put a dispute on such payments and contacting PayPal will also not be fruitful.

Send the money as Friends and Family
How to protect yourself

Understand that PayPal Friends and Family payment methods is only made for money transfer between trusted friends and family member where there is no intention of adding a dispute. A payment made for purchasing something must be done as a business transaction so PayPal could protect you if anything goes wrong.

Simply decline such requests and tell the seller that you need protection from PayPal and you’ll only make the payment as a business transaction.

Seller issuing a fake invoice

For bulk purchases, the seller might tell you that they will send a PayPal invoice and you should make a payment according to it. Afterwards, you will receive an email from PayPal with a link to an invoice for the total amount.

You’ll have to log in with your PayPal credentials to make the payment (even if you are already logged in). Usually, nothing happens when you log in, or maybe an error would show up.

What happens behind the scene

The invoice the seller has sent to you is fake, and it’s not the PayPal’s official address from which you received the email. When you’ll click on the link in the email, it will redirect you to a fake webpage with a fake PayPal login field.

If you will log in, your credentials will be sent to the scammer and your account will get hacked.

fake invoice email
How to protect yourself

You need to be a little careful about invoices from untrusted sources. First, make sure the address from which you received the email is “support@paypal.com”. Similar to the scam #1 in this post, make sure the invoice website is “www.paypal.com” and not a spoof one. More details on fake emails are at the end of this post.

Offers payment via PayPal but switches to different method later

The seller may confirm that they accept PayPal payments. However, when you are ready to complete the payment, the seller will ask you to use a different method such as Western Union or Wire Transfer. They will probably talk about the low fee or may even give you discount for using a different method.

What happens behind the scene

PayPal offers protection to the buyer and ensures you get the goods you are expecting. Most other payment methods don’t offer such protection, and once the money is sent it can’t be recovered.

So, the seller may try to trick you into using a different method for a better deal and then they won’t send you the goods at all. Using the method of their choice, you won’t be able to file any claim and you’ll lose the money.

How to protect yourself

Protection is probably the main reason why you are using PayPal for the transaction. Stick to the original terms and tell the seller you’ll only make the payment via PayPal. No matter how sweet the deal is, it’s not worth the risk of losing all your money.

Some additional info…

Although above are the most common scams, but you should know that fake emails are frequently used for PayPal scams. There are hundreds of ways scammers can use fake emails to cheat PayPal users. This includes launching phishing attacks, sending fake money emails, sending fake email to win a prize, and many other.

However, following basic email scam prevention rules should help prevent such scams. Below are some clues that can help detect fake PayPal email scams:

  • The email will not be from support@paypal.com.
  • It will ask for confidential information, such as bank details, PayPal login details, full name, your security question’s answer, and other similar information that could be exploited.
  • PayPal will never ask you to install or download anything.
  • They will not use your name to address you. PayPal knows your name and will always address you with it.
  • The email content creates a sense of urgency. For example, “Click now to get $50 coupon” or “We have noticed suspicious activity in your account, click the link below to confirm”.

PayPal also has an extensive guide on how to identify fake PayPal emails and websites. You can refer to it for more details.

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