The most common Paypal scams of 2023 and how to avoid them according to a cybersecurity expert

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Billions of pounds are lost every single year to scams - here are the most common ones and how to avoid them, according to a cybersecurity expert.

Paypal is a giant in online payment processing. According to recent data, the number of PayPal users worldwide is set to hit 223.3 million in 2023.

With almost a quarter of a billion people using the site and millions of pounds involved, it can be targeted by online fraudsters looking for quick, easy and sometimes lucrative payday. Due to this, cybersecurity expert Theodor Porutiu from has outlined the most common PayPal scams of 2023 and how to avoid them.

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The 2017 Annual Fraud Indicator estimates fraud losses to the UK at around £190 billion every year. Fraud is arguably more costly now than ever, especially during a cost of living crisis.

Even fraudsters have been impacted by this, meaning they may come up with more and more cunning ways to trick you out of your money. Here are the most common Paypal scams of 2023 to watch out for.

Most common Paypal scams 2023

The “problem with your account” scam 

Emailing is reportedly a preferred method via most fraudsters. You may receive a phishing email claiming an issue with your PayPal account, and the email will also include a link and a request that you click on it to log into your account.

The “promotional offer” or “you have money waiting” scam

With this scam, you receive an email offering a cash rebate or other financial incentive. The email will tell you that you must log in to your PayPal account to verify a few details to claim that reward.

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The “advance payment” scam

You will receive an email notification that you’ve won, inherited, or are entitled in some other way to receive a considerable sum of money from an unexpected source. The only catch is that you first must send a small sum via PayPal to cover transaction fees (or some other fake expense), but once you send the small sum, you never hear from the scammer again, and you are out the money you sent.

The “shipping address” scam

These scam methods involve actually engaging with you on the real PayPal platform. If you sell items online, then you’re the target audience for these scams. Several types of common PayPal scams involve shipping addresses.

The “alternate payment method” scam

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This is not a scam in and of itself, but rather a measure that scammers take to leave you without options after defrauding you. Sometimes, a scammer will ask you to transfer money using PayPal’s Friends and Family option.  Any payments made like this are no longer protected by the PayPal protection program, and once you transfer money this way for goods, you have no recourse against fraud claims.

The “payment pending” scam

A buyer will engage with you on PayPal to pay for an item you sell. They message you, claiming to have made the payment, but that PayPal won’t release the money to you until you provide a shipment tracking number.

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The “fake charities” scam

In case of natural disasters, for example, many people search for local charities where they can donate to relief efforts. Scammers often use this to their advantage, set up fake charities or donation sites and ask you for contributions via PayPal to fake charities.

The “callback phishing email” scam 

In this scam, you get an email warning you of “suspicious activity” in your PayPal account, usually with large transactions involved. The email will urge you to call a number to cancel the transaction. This number then directs you to a scam call centre that will try to get your PayPal login details and other personal information.

Top tips to avoid Paypal scams

  • Never send money outside PayPal if you transacted on the website
  • Always use your own shipping method
  • Only ship to the address on the Transaction Details page
  • Only deal with verified buyers and sellers
  • Be wary of email links and attachments
  • Get a good antivirus
  • Only contact PayPal using the number listed on its website and remember that official PayPal communications will always address you by name

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