How to identify fake messages

The likelihood you'll receive a fake message is growing dramatically

most common cybercrime in 20221
25 %
more reports of phishing in 2022 vs 20201
41 %
of all fraud attempts were made through text or email in 20222

How to spot a phishing email or text

Generic greetings

Phishing messages often begin with impersonal greetings. “Dear user” or “Hello, PayPal member” are definitely suspect. Messages from PayPal will always use the full name listed in your PayPal account.


Attachments can contain malware, so never open them unless you’re 100% sure they’re legitimate.

A sense of urgency

Don’t heed pleas for you to take fast action or warning you of problems that will compromise your account status.3

Fake URL

If the web address is scrambled or looks suspect, don't click on anything and leave.

Asks for sensitive info

Never provide personal, credit card, or account info via email, text, or phone.

Poorly written

Typos, misspellings, and incorrect grammar are common in phishing messages.

Look for PayPal’s logo

An authentic PayPal email sports our company logo and a checkmark in your email inbox view. This helps you quickly recognize a legitimate PayPal email and more easily identify phishing messages. Many email service providers like Apple, Gmail, and Yahoo support companies using their logo to help consumers identify real messages.

Tips for browsing websites

Don’t rely on the “s” in https

One letter used to make a big difference, but now the ”s” doesn’t always mean the site is legitimate because hackers can build encrypted sites, too.

Don’t rely on the padlock symbol

Authentic sites will have this icon in the address bar, but many fake sites do, too.

Type the URL directly yourself

Phishers create fake websites with URLs that are very similar to the real one. To be safe, enter the URL you want to visit manually.

Identifying suspicious emails and websites

This can prove challenging for even the most savvy digital natives. So, we put together a tutorial to help you see the signs.

Tips for recognizing fake phone calls

Never share sensitive info

Account info, passwords, or validation codes are for your eyes and ears only. Even a customer service rep shouldn’t ask for them.

Never trust Caller ID

Scammers can easily fake a Caller ID, so don’t rely on it as confirmation a call is legitimate. Just because it says “PayPal” doesn’t necessarily mean the call is from us.

Never return an automated call

Scammers use automated systems to make voice calls. If an automated call provides a number and asks you to call back, don’t. Only contact PayPal through the Contact page in our Help Center or call PayPal Customer Service at 1-888-221-1161.

Learn more

Read more helpful info about protecting your info from phishing and fakes.

How to do more

This FTC page provides additional ways to report phishing and help fight scammers.

What to do if you receive a phishing message

Detect, avoid, report. That’s the best plan to stay secure.

Spotting phishing and other fake messages

There are many signs that can indicate a message may be fake.

Our Help Center is always available

Find answers to commonly asked questions and get help with your PayPal account.

Secure shopping and selling starts with PayPal

Spend, send, and manage your money with confidence.