BlogScams25TH JAN 2024
AuthorShayan Naveed
11 min read

13 Types of PayPal Scams To Look Out For

This image is about a blog on types of PayPal scams
BlogScams25TH JAN 2024
11 min read

13 Types of PayPal Scams To Look Out For

AuthorShayan Naveed
This image is about a blog on types of PayPal scams

With 431 million users worldwide, PayPal is a major player in the online transactions game. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by cybercriminals, and the consequences are noteworthy – projected losses in billions and a security breach affecting around 35,000 user accounts in 2022. This isn't surprising given how many types of PayPal scams are being used to ensnare people.

Online payment fraud is getting worse, especially on platforms like PayPal. In 2023, it was expected to go over a staggering $48 billion.

In this guide, we'll explore the various types of PayPal scams, shedding light on their workings and offering guidance on how to protect your hard-earned money.

13 Types of PayPal Scams

If you’re one of the millions of PayPal users, you need to learn how to identify various types of scams and how scammers operate them. Here are some of the most common PayPal scams and how to avoid them:

A list of PayPal scams

1. Phishing Emails

In this type of scam, individuals typically receive emails that appear to be from PayPal, claiming urgent issues with their accounts. These emails often contain links that, when clicked, direct users to fake websites designed to steal login credentials and other sensitive data.

Tips: Always scrutinize the sender's email address. PayPal will never ask for sensitive information via email. If in doubt, independently verify your account status by logging in through the official PayPal website. Learn more about spotting phishing emails here.

2. Fake PayPal Websites

Fraudsters create fake PayPal websites that closely mimic the official platform to deceive users into entering their login credentials. These websites may appear genuine at first glance, making it challenging for users to distinguish between the real and the fraudulent.

Tips: Pay close attention to the website's URL. Only use bookmarks or manually type the official PayPal URL to access your account. If the site looks suspicious, it likely is.

3. Overpayment Scams 

Overpayment scams primarily target online sellers, where scammers intentionally overpay for a product or service and then request a refund for the excess amount. This tactic preys on the seller's willingness to accommodate the buyer's request for a refund.

Tips: Exercise caution with significant overpayments, especially from unfamiliar buyers. Verify the legitimacy of transactions before processing refunds, and communicate directly with buyers to confirm details.

4. Unauthorized Transactions

Unauthorized transactions occur when scammers gain access to your PayPal account and make transactions without your knowledge or consent. This type of scam poses a direct threat to your linked bank accounts or credit cards.

Tips: Regularly monitor your PayPal account for any unusual activity. If you suspect unauthorized transactions, report them to PayPal immediately. Changing your password promptly is also advisable.

5. Social Engineering Tactics

Scammers often leverage social engineering tactics to manipulate individuals emotionally or psychologically. This can involve impersonating friends, family, or even PayPal representatives to gain trust and extract sensitive information.

Tips: Be skeptical of unexpected messages or calls. Legitimate organizations, including PayPal, will not ask for sensitive information via unsolicited communication. Verify any concerns directly through official channels.

6. Malicious Mobile Apps

Malicious mobile apps are designed to mimic legitimate apps but are crafted by scammers to capture login credentials and personal information.

Tips: Only download the official PayPal app from reputable app stores. Check reviews and ratings to ensure the app's legitimacy. Be wary of apps from unknown sources.

7. Fake Invoices and Payment Requests

Scammers often send fake invoices and payment requests to create a sense of urgency, tricking users into making payments for goods or services that do not exist.

Tips: Independently verify the legitimacy of any payment requests. Contact the invoicer through known channels to confirm the request's authenticity before making any payments.

8. Ransomware Threats

In some instances, scammers deploy ransomware threats to lock users out of their PayPal accounts and demand payment for access.

Tips: Ensure your devices have up-to-date security software. If affected, report the incident to both PayPal and law enforcement immediately.

9. Gift Card Scams

Gift card scams involve scammers requesting payment in the form of gift cards, falsely presenting it as a legitimate PayPal transaction.

Tips: PayPal does not use gift cards for transactions. Reject any requests for payment in gift cards as they are almost always fraudulent.

10. Account Suspension Scams

Scammers may send emails claiming that your “PayPal account is suspended,” prompting you to provide personal information to restore it.

Tips: Always verify the status of your account directly through the official PayPal website. Legitimate companies will not ask for sensitive information via email.

11. Shipping Address Scams

Scammers may exploit the shipping process by providing fake or invalid addresses. This can lead to issues with the delivery of goods, creating confusion and potential financial loss for sellers.

Tips: Verify shipping addresses carefully before processing orders. Communicate with buyers to confirm details and avoid shipping to suspicious addresses.

12. Fake Refund Scams

Scammers may send fake refund notifications, claiming overpayments or errors in transactions. They trick users into providing personal information or clicking on malicious links under the guise of rectifying the supposed refund.

Tips: Independently verify refund notifications by logging into your PayPal account. Avoid clicking on links in refund emails, and report suspicious activity to PayPal.

13. PayPal Bitcoin Scams

In this scam, scammers exploit the popularity of cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, by posing as sellers or buyers on PayPal. They may promise lucrative Bitcoin deals, tricking users into sending money or releasing products without receiving payment.

Tips: Exercise caution when dealing with Bitcoin transactions on PayPal. Verify the legitimacy of the buyer or seller, and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Use secure payment methods and conduct transactions within the PayPal platform to minimize the risk of scams.

How To Spot PayPal Scams: 6 warning signs

  1. Generic Greetings: Phishing emails often use generic greetings like "Dear User" or “Dear Customer” instead of addressing you by name.

  2. Urgency: Scammers create a sense of urgency, prompting quick actions to prevent account suspension or other consequences.

  3. Mismatched URLs: Hover over links to reveal the actual URL. Phishing emails often use misleading links that differ from the legitimate PayPal website.

  4. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes: Legitimate communications from PayPal are usually well-written. Phishing emails may contain noticeable spelling and grammar errors.

  5. Request for Personal Information: PayPal will not ask for sensitive details, such as credit card numbers or passwords in their communications. If an email requests this, it's likely a scam.

  6. Fake email domains: Watch for emails from suspicious or slightly altered domains that mimic legitimate ones.

Click on the highlighted parts for more details:

Tips for Verifying PayPal Communications

  1. Check the Sender's Email Address: Verify that the email sender's address is legitimate and matches official PayPal addresses.

  2. Avoid Clicking on Links: Instead of clicking on links in emails, manually type the official PayPal URL into your browser or use bookmarks.

  3. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA for an added layer of security on your PayPal account.

Protective Measures Against PayPal Scams

Now that we've explored the various types of PayPal scams and their modus operandi, let's delve into proactive measures to fortify your defenses against these online threats.

  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

    1. Why: 2FA adds an extra layer of security, requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device.

    2. How: Access your PayPal account settings and enable 2FA for enhanced protection.

  2. Regularly Monitor PayPal Account Activity:

    1. Why: Keeping a close eye on your account activity allows you to quickly detect and report any unauthorized transactions.

    2. How: Periodically review your transaction history and set up account notifications for added awareness.

  3. Use Secure and Unique Passwords:

    1. Why: A strong, unique password reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your PayPal account.

    2. How: Create a complex password that includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password across multiple accounts.

  4. Educate Yourself on the Latest Scam Tactics:

    1. Why: Staying informed about evolving scam tactics helps you recognize and avoid new threats.

    2. How: Regularly check online resources, such as PayPal's security page, for updates on emerging scams and best practices.

  5. Avoid Third-Party Mobile Apps:

    1. Why: Official apps from trusted app stores are more secure and less likely to be compromised.

    2. How: Download the PayPal app only from reputable app stores like Google Play or the Apple App Store.

  6. Verify the Legitimacy of Websites and Payment Requests:

    1. Why: Verifying the authenticity of websites and payment requests safeguards you against falling for fake transactions.

    2. How: Double-check website URLs before entering login information. Independently confirm payment requests through trusted channels.

  7. Report Suspicious Activities to PayPal Immediately:

    1. Why: Timely reporting allows PayPal to investigate and take appropriate action against potential scams.

    2. How: Use PayPal's official channels to report any suspicious activities or transactions promptly.


PayPal scams are an unfortunate reality, but by arming yourself with knowledge and implementing proactive measures, you significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online fraud. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and empower yourself online. Your financial security is worth the effort.


What to do if you've fallen victim to the various types of paypal scams?

Shayan Naveed
Shayan Naveed / Contributor
Shayan has covered various topics as a journalist with over a decade of experience. She is currently focusing on the ramifications of cybersecurity incidents and their impact on our digital lifestyle as whole. Reach out to her for tips, pitches and stories.
FAQsFrequently Asked Questions
Look out for generic greetings, urgent requests, and check the sender's email address. PayPal won't ask for sensitive information via email.
Report the incident to PayPal immediately, change your passwords, monitor financial statements, and consider filing a report with local law enforcement.
Double-check website URLs before entering login information. Independently confirm payment requests through trusted channels to avoid falling for fake transactions.