My Web Maestro

Don’t be Fooled by Predatory PayPal Money Requests

Posted on by Nathan Lyle

This isn’t a case of PayPal acting in a predatory manner, but of people taking advantage of one of the PayPal features where you can request money from anyone with an email address. While it’s great that there’s an easy way to do this, it means that it’s also easy for spammers and scammers to attempt to take advantage of you.

Getting an email that says “so and so sent you a money request” is not in itself a danger – and it does not mean your PayPal account has been compromised. There are two risks involved though…

  1. There are links/buttons in the email, and it’s possible the email itself is NOT a valid message from PayPal and they just hope you’ll click a link or button to find out more. Don’t do this – it’s a good way to get a virus downloaded to your computer. (If you have a question about something with your account, always go to the site directly and log in, and look for yourself.)
  2. The message may be valid in itself, sent by PayPal and not a risk to click, but it was sent in the hopes that with the right amount and wording enough people would just pay it without looking too deeply. If a spammer can get just 5 percent of people out of a million to send them $10, they’d make $500,000. 

I recently got an email (a legitimate one from PayPal) saying “ART SOFT DIVULGAÇÕES sent you a money request” for the amount of $7.86. The first give away was that it was in another language and I’m sure I haven’t recently done any business with anyone overseas. When I logged in to my PayPal account, I could see the requested transaction there, so I knew it wasn’t just a fake email. 

If you get a request like this, the best thing to do is to log in and go to your summary or activity page, find the request, and click “cancel” underneath it. This is better than leaving it there, to prevent any future confusion or accidental payment. 

As always, the rule of thumb for any email you weren’t fully expecting is to be paranoid and suspicious, almost to the point of covering your keyboard in tinfoil. (Maybe not quite that much.) 

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About Nathan Lyle

Nathan is a father of four, an amateur musician, and an aspiring photographer. He started programming in 4th grade on an Apple II+ and many years later spent much of his college years freelancing website design for college departments. Nathan is a veteran of the Browser Wars, and will gladly talk at length about the changes he has seen in Web technology if you accidentally ask him.

Visit Nathan's Website or View all posts by Nathan Lyle


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