Phishing is a prevalent method used by con artists to trick victims into parting with their money. To earn your trust and coerce you into giving up sensitive information, scammers will often craft messages that appear to have come from a known source. There has been a rise in reported instances of phishing schemes involving PayPal, so we thought we’d provide some tips for protecting your account.
Recognizing the Red Flags of Pay Pal Text Scams
You first receive a text message that looks to be from PayPal. There’s a chance you’re not even a PayPal user, in which case you’ll immediately recognize the scam. However, if you’ve ever used PayPal before, the transaction may seem more legitimate.
The message can look like it was sent from PayPal’s official number or indicate PayPal as the sender. Yet, fraudsters can simply counterfeit these details, so be wary. They are therefore not a reliable means of determining the sender of a message.
- The information conveyed could be very unsettling. Some typical messages are:
- Account compromise: a warning
- They have a question regarding one of the payments you made recently and would like you to look into it.
- A confirmation of a recent order that you don’t recall placing.
Unanticipated Gift Card Offer
All of these alerts will look important and demand that you respond quickly. The con artist is taking a chance that your account woes would cause you to react emotionally rather than rationally. No matter how legitimate such a message appears to be, you should treat it with suspicion.
Methods of Deception
In most cases, a phone number to reach PayPal through text message will be included. Naturally, this isn’t PayPal, but rather a channel straight to the criminals. To verify your account information, please call the number provided. If you provide them your account details, they can easily withdraw money from your account at will.
You might assume that you can identify a legitimate PayPal representative from a fraudster, but that’s not always the case. There is no longer any truth to the stereotype of a foreign-sounding speaker who manages to deceive others by using halting English. Many con artists are experts at persuasion and have spent years perfecting their techniques.
Alternatively, the phone number may be replaced with a link to a website in the text message. Again, this could fool you into thinking it’s a legitimate site, but it’s not. If you log in to the compromised site, the fraudster will have access to your account information and can use it however they see fit.
A Pay Pal Text Scam: What to Do if You Get One
The easiest way to protect yourself is to always be on the lookout and to doubt any correspondence you receive from PayPal. Keep in mind that you are not obligated to respond, and that PayPal will use alternate means of communication if the information is urgent.
You can verify the legitimacy of the email by contacting PayPal through one of their established channels for customer support.
Send the message to 7726 to get it marked as spam. Additionally, Action Fraud can be notified of the phishing effort independently.
The Scam of the PayPal Text Message
Targets of these scams are contacted through text message and told that they have received a (false) payment. Customers who disagree with the charge are given 30 minutes to get in touch. If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a phishing website meant to steal your personal information.
- Methods for Self-Defense
- Verify the correctness of the sender’s email or mobile number.
- Giving away rewards or items for free is a red sign.
- Check the bank’s website to verify your benefit payments and any other information.
- Don’t ever open anything from an unexpected source. Avoid falling for fraudulent websites by using Trend Micro Check.