/ Money, Scams

Scam alert: fake PayPal emails

PayPal is often a target for scammers looking for quick access to your money. Here are two phishing emails from earlier this year so you know how to spot them.

PayPal phishing emails are nearly always after the same thing; access to your account and personal information.

Here are two examples we’ve seen from earlier this year that can help show you what to look out for. We’ll also explain why they can be so effective.

On first glance, both emails appear to be from PayPal, using the company’s branding and its typical email layout.

They were also sent from email addresses that contain ‘PayPal’ in the domain, which helps make them seem more legitimate.

However, there are a couple of giveaways that all is not what it seems.

Hallmarks of a scam

PayPal usually addresses customers by name when it contacts you. A generic greeting in an email, such as the ‘Hello Customers’ is a cause for suspicion.

Other classic hallmarks of a scam we spotted include spelling and grammatical errors, including missing punctuation.

Guide: how to spot a scam email

It’s also very rare for a company to email you threatening to close your account if you don’t take immediate action. 

Scammers use this tactic to worry people into doing something, which unfortunately often successfully prompts the response they’re looking for.

PayPal has confirmed these emails are both fakes.

What if you’ve clicked through?

It’s unlikely there’s anything to worry about if you’ve only opened the email or clicked the link, but if you’ve entered any of your account details, such as your password, or given out your payment details, you must take precautions to protect yourself as soon as possible.

Guide: I think I may have given a fraudster my bank details

First, report what’s happened to both PayPal and the bank your account may be linked to.

If you do have credit or debit cards linked to your PayPal account, your bank will be able to make sure your money is protected.

PayPal should be able to secure your account, and its payment policy promises to protect its users from fraud.

If any money has been taken from your account because of these phishing emails, you should be reimbursed.

Have you received a PayPal phishing email in the past? How regularly do you see them?

Let us know, and help warn others in the comments.

DCworcs says:
23 July 2020

I get these on a fairly regular basis probably about once a fortnight. I forward them to spoof@paypal.com. I then delete them and then delete them from my “Deleted” folder.

I also get regular phishing emails purportedly from Amazon along the same lines. I do the same with them (except I send them to stop-spoofing@amazon.com).

I also send ALL phishing emails to report@phishing.gov.uk.

I do exactly as DCworcs above

Old George says:
23 July 2020

Same here. So far they’ve been easy enough to spot. There’s always something fishy!

I’ve had a few of these recently. I have reported them to gov.uk phishing .

Margaret Philips says:
23 July 2020

I got a fake PayPal text today, reported to text scams

Within hours of receiving my which email today, I got a very convincing email from PayPal…. I am normally really hot on these fake emails but this one actually worried me. It’s all thanks to Which and their emails that I realised it was Fake…
I stopped panicking and read it again. No name and grammatical errors were obvious, but on first glance, I can see how people fall victim to them. Thank you DC worcs for putting the email addresses in your post, it’s been a real help to me today. Please stay vigilant, together we can really make a difference.

Peter W says:
23 July 2020

I have had many phishing/scam PayPal emails. I usually forward them to “spoof @paypal.com”.

TerryB says:
23 July 2020

I get them regularly too and immediately send them to “spoof@paypal,com”, then immediayely put them into “Spam” and then delete them.

I get these PayPal emails regularly. I move them to spam and delete.

Gerry says:
23 July 2020

Am I the only person to notice that the first email header includes payqal.com rather than paypal.com? This should have been specifically highlighted.

It would also help if the images were sensible sizes that could be read without having to zoom in.

The salutation is also “Hello Customers” and not “Hello Customer” as stated in the Intro.

There are so many typographical errors in them that it is a wonder that anyone is fooled by the messages.

Apologies for the small size of the images – this is just the way the site keeps them in line without them swamping the page unfortunately. There is a way round it though if you right click on them and select ‘copy image address’ – you can them view them full size by following the URLs:

Pete says:
23 July 2020

Thanks for that advice, I didn’t know how to do that 🙂

You’re welcome 🙂

Keith Garner says:
23 July 2020

The sample scans shown on are too small to examine properly. I can find no way of enlarging them.

If you right click each and then select ‘copy image address’ you should be able to view full size:

I have been getting about one Paypal scam email a day, obviously fishing for my password.

Is it possible to add a function to smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops to prevent – or at least pause – clicking through to the link in an e-mail? Alternatively, could the e-mail service providers not incorporate that function in their system? – It would be more useful than many of the features that have become available over the years.

It depends on the email system you are using, John. Here is information relating to Microsoft Outlook: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/turn-on-or-off-links-in-email-messages-2d79b907-93b6-4774-82e6-1f0385cf20f8

Thanks, Wavechange. This a useful facility that should be better publicised, I did not realise it existed. I am not likely to implement it myself but I shall keep the details for future reference.

Had PAYpal scam mails sent to spoof paypal but NO acknowledgement on receipt of them

Kamini Corriette says:
23 July 2020

I have received quite a number of scams email from PayPal and I have forward it off to the phishing dept of PayPal. It is so boring to keep receiving these dodgy email.

Philip says:
23 July 2020

I have had several of the PayPal e mails also inland revenue

Further to my comment earlier, I will just add that the email made it into my inbox because the email address was the actual email address all my paypal emails come from. I have sent it to them highlighting their address at the top. How are they managing to do this? I see it’s not just PayPal that have had this issue.

Bob says:
23 July 2020

I wonder why I never get any. Must be because I dont use Facebook, almost no other social media and use masked emails. I also dont use paypal or other payment systems when its offered as a means to pay.

Just received a PayPal scam email this morning — I’ve not had one of the PayPal scam emails for two months — seems they’ve begun invading us yet again. What a real pity that the criminals/creeps who send this tripe out can’t be tracked, traced and severely dealt with – hung, drawn and quartered is, to me, exactly what should happen to them.

Pete says:
23 July 2020

I’m actually surprised that they are still making spelling and grammar mistakes. They are so very close to being completely convincing.
One would think that they would read the advice of Which and other scam alert services internationally, on how to spot a scam and correct their ‘Hallmark” errors, and omit the greeting or other “tell tale” signs.
Apparently there is a lot of money to be made from these phishing scams, one would think that they would employ the services of a proof reader, or even just use spell check and grammar tools which are easily (or even freely) available on any computer.
I would imagine that soon they will learn to use all the tools, talent and software programs like PhotoShop, Illustrator etc. available –
– At least that would be my advice if I were their project or business manager LOL.

granofthewest says:
23 July 2020

I was scanned by a fake PayPal website. Luckily my bank sorted it, money was taken for an online gambling site. Luckily my money was reimbursed. Much more careful now.

Richard Lowne says:
23 July 2020

This email CLAIMS to be from Which? and asks you for details, name, email and then asks you to click on a SignUp button within the email – but is it really from Which? You cannot rely on the URL given.

Pete says:
23 July 2020

HaHa, true 🙂

P B Baker says:
23 July 2020

I received a TEXT last week purporting to be from PayPal telling me that I had to confirm the new Ts&Cs. I thought about it and decided that PP wouldn’t send me a text from an ‘ordinary’ telephone number so deleted it. I still think I was right in doing so but it did worry me for a minute or two as it was the first phishing or spam text/message I’ve received.