Friday 23 May, 2014

PayPal Scams and How to Avoid Them

Scammers are now using fake PayPal email messages to deliver viruses and worse to your computer. If you use PayPal, you’ve probably gotten a few spam messages along those lines already.

These are email messages that appear to be from PayPal. They say that there’s some type of urgent action you need to take. There’s a link in the message and when you click it, it leads you to a login page. The trouble is that it isn’t PayPal’s login page at all, but a fake one. When you enter in your password, the hackers get it. Now they have access to your account. The scary thing is that you may not even know after you’ve done it.

These scams are extremely common and lots of people fall for them. After all, if there’s something funny about your PayPal account, you want to deal with it as soon as possible. The message usually says something about your account being frozen due to fraud, and any PayPal user who has ever had this happen for real knows this is serious. Even the sharpest of us get taken in by the scammers (unlike the Nigerian scam asking you to send money).

If you look at the message closely, you can usually tell that there’s something ‘off’ about the images. Still, they get it pretty close and it’s often hard to see unless you do a side-by-side comparison. A dead giveaway is that they don’t use your real name in the message. They say something like, ‘Dear PayPal user.’ You’ll notice that any real message from PayPal uses your name as it appears on the account.

A quick and easy way to spot PayPal scams is to look at the email address in the ‘from’ field. If it’s from an address ending in ‘paypal.com’ only, it’s PayPal. Otherwise, it’s not. When you look at this email address, you’ll often see a random string of letters and numbers.

A good way to stay safe and avoid falling for any scams completely is to not click any links in an email from PayPal. If they say something is wrong with your account, go to the site and login from there. You’ll find the alert on the main page of your account.

There can also be fraud PayPal calls. Any PayPal user knows that they rarely if ever call their customers for any reason. If you get a call from them, don’t give out any of your account information no matter how convincing they are. If they insist, offer to call them back and use an official phone number from the website.

For an extra bit of protection, change your password often. Use a password that’s a random mix of numbers and don’t use any password that you’re also using elsewhere.

If you’ve fallen for a PayPal scam, call them immediately to get it sorted out. The good news is that they take fraud protection seriously (too seriously sometimes!) and they have a good record of clearing up disputes quickly and effectively.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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