I have been a victim of PayPal fraud twice in the past month. It is an extremely frustrating situation to be in. Find out what happened to me and how I handled it, so you’ll know what to do if it happens to you.
Shipping Labels to Romania
On February 20, 2014, I received two email receipts from PayPal. Both were for shipping labels to USPS. This didn’t immediately set off a red flag for me since I regularly sell items on eBay. Upon further investigation though, I found that the shipping labels purchased through my account were for shipping “sport nutrition” to Romania. My heart sank. I have never shipped anything to Romania in my life, and I don’t sell “sport nutrition.”
A second occurrence happened on March 6, 2014. Once again, two different transactions, both for shipping labels to Romania. My account had been compromised twice, and I was upset.
Customer Service is Questionable
My first interaction with PayPal’s fraud department (February 20) went really well. The representative I spoke to immediately refunded my account and advised me to change my password, which I did. My second interaction did not go as smoothly.
I called PayPal promptly when I saw the email notifications that charges had been made on my account the second time (March 6). The representative told me that she would open a case for me and I should expect to hear from them within one week. I received an email several days later stating that my claim had been denied. I was furious. I called PayPal and waited on hold for an hour to speak with a supervisor. Exhausted and disappointed, I decided to hang up and try again the next day.
I called back early the next morning, and after speaking to three representatives, finally had my money returned to my account. Apparently, customer service at PayPal is “luck of the draw.”
Not an Isolated Incident
Forum posts on the online PayPal Community Help Forum indicate that others have been scammed out of money in this way. Incidents nearly identical to mine have happened in both 2010 and 2011. I have not been able to find any additional reports of USPS shipping label fraud. However, just because someone doesn’t post about it on the Internet doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
If you’re like me, you’d like to keep your PayPal account open. PayPal is by far the easiest method to send and receive payments online. Also, if you sell on eBay, you are required to have a PayPal account.
What can we do to protect ourselves in lieu of closing our PayPal accounts? I have removed my checking account and debit card from PayPal. This way, scammers can only take what funds I have sitting in PayPal and don’t have access to my bank accounts.
If you must link a bank account to PayPal, I recommend opening up a separate checking account specifically for PayPal. Keep very little money in this special checking account, thus limiting your monetary exposure to scammers.
Finally, remember to change your password and security questions often. Make your password something difficult to guess; a mixture of letters, numbers, and special symbols.