PayPal email scams: how to stay safe

Look out for emails claiming your PayPal account has been accessed without your consent or is about to expire.

In the run-up to peak Christmas shopping time, fraudsters have been hitting PayPal customers hard.

Two scam emails are currently doing the rounds, which try to swindle you out of your cash.

The first is a fake email claiming to be from the online payments company and suggesting that somebody has been using your account without you knowing.  

A typical email reads:

“Log into your PayPal account as soon as possible. We may ask you to confirm information you provided when you created your account to make sure you’re the account holder.

"We’ll then ask you to Confirm your password and security.”

You are asked to click a link at the bottom of the page, which takes you to a fake PayPal site where scammers will collect any info you enter.

The other scam tells the victim that their PayPal account is about to expire.

It’s much the same as the first one in that it asks you to click a link at the bottom of the email, taking you to a fraudulent page to fill in your details.

How to spot a scam PayPal email

Check out the source email address if you’re suspicious. It’ll often be the hacker’s Hotmail or Gmail address rather than a PayPal source.

You should always be keeping an eye out for the classic warning signs like poor spelling and grammar, suspect links (hover over them first to see if the URL is genuine), requests for personal or financial details and addressing you with ‘Dear customer’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ rather than your full name.

Pressuring you into an immediate action is another sure-fire sign of a scam.

Remember that PayPal will only ever ask you for your personal details on the secure PayPal site after you’ve safely logged into your account.

If you’ve received any dodgy emails purporting to be from PayPal, don’t click any of the links and forward the message on to spoof@paypal.com – and don’t forget to report it to Action Fraud as well.

Read more in our guide to avoiding scams and rip-offs.

Check your free credit report for suspicious activity

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