How do I spot and report a fake, fraudulent, or phishing PayPal email or website?
We continuously work to disable fake or “spoof” communication including emails, websites, and text messages. We review all submissions sent to us, and work with law enforcement around the world to stop online criminals.
When you aren't sure if you can trust a communication claiming to be from PayPal, check to see if the message does any of the following:
Uses impersonal, generic greetings, such as “Dear user” or “Dear [your email address].”
Emails from PayPal will always address you by your first and last names or by your business name. We never say things like "Dear user" or "Hello PayPal member.”
Asks you to click on links that take you to a fake website.
Contains unknown attachments.
Only open an attachment if you're sure its legitimate and secure. Be particularly cautious of invoices from companies and contractors you're not familiar with. Some attachments contain viruses that install themselves when opened.
Conveys a false sense of urgency.
Phishing emails are often alarmist, warning you to update your account immediately. They're hoping you'll fall for their sense of urgency and ignore warning signs that the email is fake. If there’s an urgent need for you to complete something on your account, you can find this information by logging into PayPal.
The following are common scams where fraudsters use spoofed emails. When in doubt, always log in to PayPal and view the Resolution Center for any notifications.
Many fraudsters send spoofed emails warning you that your account is about to be suspended. The email will ask you to enter your password in a (spoofed) webpage. We’ll only ask you to enter your password on our login page.
"You've received a payment."
Some fraudsters try to trick you in to thinking you've received a payment for an order. They want what you're selling for free. Before you ship anything, log in to PayPal and check that actually you received a payment. We'll never ask you to share a tracking number by email. If you received a payment, you’ll always see it in your PayPal activity.
"You’ve been paid too much."
Fraudsters may try to convince you that they overpaid for an item. For example, they’ll send an email that says they’ve paid you 500.00 USD for a camera you listed at 300.00 USD. The sender asks you to ship the camera in addition to the extra 200.00 USD you were “paid” by mistake. The fraudster wants your camera AND your money but hasn’t actually paid you at all.
Before sending anything, log in to PayPal and check that you received a payment.
Reporting Suspicious Communication
Phishing emails often lead you to fake websites to steal your private, sensitive data. These websites could look unusual or they could appear genuine but have a suspicious URL.
- Don’t click on any links inside of the email or in the website, and don’t download any attachments.
- Don’t enter any information.
- Don’t change the subject line and don’t forward the message as an attachment.
- Forward the email and/or website to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Delete the email from your inbox.
If you receive a text message with a link inviting you to visit a website:
- Don’t click on any links inside of the SMS text message.
- Screenshot the message.
- Make sure that the message shows the full telephone number.
- Email the screenshot to email@example.com.
If you receive a suspicious telephone call:
- Take a screenshot of your phone log showing the telephone number
- Email the screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Include details of the telephone call, including what the caller stated or asked from you.
When you send an email to email@example.com, you’ll receive an automatic email letting you know we received it.
Safeguarding Your AccountIf you shared financial or personal information, or entered personal information on a fake website:
- Change your PayPal password and security questions immediately.
- Contact your bank and credit or debit card issuer and let them know what happened.
- Review your recent PayPal activity to make sure you authorized all the payments.
- Report any unauthorized payments in the Resolution Center. Remember, you’re 100% protected against unauthorized payments sent from your account.
You can also learn more about recognizing and preventing fraudulent activity here:
- www.ic3.gov (Internet Crime Complaint Center)
- www.fraud.org (Register complaint as well as receive tips to prevent)
- http://phish-education.apwg.org/r/en/index.htm (Anti-Phishing work group)
- Local law enforcement
Here's a video on identifying suspicious emails: