Last Updated on October 13, 2023
Can a fake website use PayPal? Any website can use PayPal, including a fake one. When you shop online, you might come across a website that appears genuine and even has an HTTPS indicator. They will offer PayPal as a payment method, and keep the transaction below $100 to bypass verifications. As you proceed to checkout and select PayPal, everything seems normal. However, the email associated with the PayPal payment might not match the merchant’s, and the product details could be different too.
Once you complete the payment, your money will go straight to a fraudster. If you raise a dispute, they will simply provide PayPal with UPS delivery proof. Unfortunately, it does not show the exact address details. Yet, PayPal might consider this as valid evidence.
The thumb rule is to be cautious when using PayPal. If possible, use a credit card as your payment method on PayPal. This way, if you PayPal on a fake website, you might be able to reverse the payment.
If a Website Uses PayPal is It Legit?
Any website can use PayPal, so if a website uses PayPal, it does not mean that it is legit. PayPal is only a payment intermediary, but they are still responsible for your safety. They provide a certain level of protection for both buyers and sellers. However, it is mostly up to you to evaluate the legitimacy of your transactions online.
Many fake websites use PayPal out there. Often, these sites offer you tempting deals that are too good to be true. They also do not have genuine contact details, and only provide an email for communication. Many times, fake PayPal sites ship products from China and could be scams.
When you raise a dispute with PayPal claiming an unauthorized transaction, PayPal will investigate. They often examine IP addresses and device logs. If they determine that you were the one who initiated the transaction, they will close the dispute.
PayPal allows only one dispute per transaction. If you need to open a second dispute, you have to reach out to PayPal directly. If declined, and you used a credit card for your PayPal payment on a fake website, contact your card provider for a chargeback.
Can a Fake Website Use PayPal?
Again, a fake website can use PayPal. While a website’s use of PayPal might seem reassuring, it’s not a sign that they are legit. In fact, scammers can integrate PayPal into their fake sites. However, when it comes to digital goods, PayPal often leans towards buyer protection, so it becomes easier for you to recover your money.
PayPal can sometimes offer more security than credit card payments. For example, you can cancel services or file a claim. Unfortunately, no payment method is entirely immune to scams, allowing a fake website use PayPal and get away with it. If you suspect foul play, contact your credit card company.
Before making transactions with a new company, try your best to research them on places such as Google.com, BBB.org, and RipOffReport.com. If you notice a PayPal-verified seal on a website, do the following:
- Click this seal. It should redirect you to PayPal’s official site.
- Once logged in, you’ll be able to access details about the vendor, including their email, verification status, and the date their account was established.
- Check if a website’s email is verified by PayPal by entering that email at the end of this link: https://www.paypal.com/us/verified/pal=EmailAddressHere.
Does PayPal Only Work with Legit Companies?
If they could, they would. Unfortunately, PayPal does not only work with legit companies; even fake websites sign up on PayPal. PayPal operates in over 200 countries, so it’s impractical for them to review every single seller or company that integrates PayPal for payments. While they offer some protection for both buyers and sellers, that is not foolproof.
If a website receives numerous complaints, PayPal may restrict its access. However, many of these problematic companies are based in China and can easily rebrand and start anew. The goal now is to protect yourself. You should be able to identify red flags before purchasing with these simple steps:
- Check the return policy. If there’s no return address or if returns are directed to China with high shipping costs, be cautious.
- Attractively priced items with high-quality images that don’t match the actual product quality.
- Lack of a contact phone number or only providing an email or webmail for communication on their site.
- Absence of clear company address details.
- Presence of fabricated reviews.
- Look out if they provide fake tracking numbers to dispute non-receipt claims.
- A quick Google search might reveal previous company names they’ve used after facing issues with PayPal.
How Do You Know if a Website is Legit on PayPal?
PayPal can’t do the protection job alone, as there are so many websites using the platform, making a fake website use PayPal and not get caught. As I mentioned earlier, your aim should be to protect your own self. Look out for the following signs when shopping on a website you are not sure about its legitimacy.
1. Assess the PayPal Login Page
You have to be careful when logging into PayPal. Scammers can create fake login pages that mirror the authentic PayPal login page. If not careful, you won’t even spot the difference. Here’s how you can identify a bogus login page.
- Check the domain name. PayPal’s domain is PayPal.com. They don’t use region-specific domains such as PayPal.co.uk. Instead, they direct you to the local version based on your IP.
- If you mistakenly enter your details on a fake page, you might see an error screen. While you’re puzzled, the scammer might be accessing your account.
- An official PayPal site uses an SSL certificate. If you don’t see a lock icon near the URL, it’s a fake website using PayPal.
2. Look Out for Fake PayPal Invoices
If you frequently deal with invoices, a website can send you fake copies. Scammers send seemingly genuine PayPal invoices for non-existent services or products. Fortunately, there are ways to detect one yourself.
- Verify the invoice simply by comparing it with an existing PayPal invoice that you already have. If in doubt, discuss it with your colleagues.
- Real PayPal invoices will address you by your name, not generic terms like ‘Dear sir’ as seen on fake websites.
3. Don’t Be Deceived by Fake Tracking Number
Tracking numbers could be used to deceive you as a buyer, making a fake website use PayPal to try to outsmart buyers. Typically, they will send a different item or none at all, and then send you a fake tracking number. They will issue this same tracking number to PayPal in the case of a dispute and may get away with it.
What you can do:
- Only buy from reputable online stores.
- The website should have secure domains and URLs (e.g., “https” is secure, while “http” isn’t).
- Pay attention to the website’s design and language.
- Examine the tracking number immediately after you receive it. If it seems off, reach out to PayPal.
- If a package seems suspicious, record yourself opening it to serve as evidence if needed.
How to Protect Yourself
It is possible to protect yourself from a fake PayPal website. As seen in this post, I have explained how these sites get away with your money, and PayPal is unable to do anything about it. Now, you have to make yourself bulletproof to any fake website using PayPal.
Verify the Sender’s Email
When you receive emails that seem to be from PayPal, you need to look at the sender’s name carefully. Fake PayPal websites can use slight variations in the address. So, make sure that the email is from @PayPal.com domain.
Don’t Fall for Phishing Attempts
If an email similar to PayPal tries to persuade you into action, such as insisting on password verification to avoid charges, take a moment to assess it. Look out for generic greetings, odd grammar, and suspicious links.
Only Select Goods/Services for Payment
If you are dealing with a scammer, do not use family and friends for payment. With this, you have PayPal’s Purchase Protection when you purchase an item that’s eligible. PayPal’s Purchase Protection will give you a full refund if your order never shows up or if the product is not as the seller described.
If you encounter any problems, do the following:
- Start a dispute with the seller within 180 days from the date of purchase on the fake website that uses PayPal.
- If the seller doesn’t get back to you or the problem remains unresolved, here’s how you can file a claim with PayPal:
- Sign in to your PayPal account and head over to the Resolution Center.
- Click Report a Problem.
- Identify the transaction in question and click Continue.
- Select “I Want to Report Unauthorized Activity” and follow the on-screen instructions.
- You’ll have 20 days from this point to reach out to the seller for a refund via PayPal.
- If the seller doesn’t cooperate or denies the refund, go back to your dispute and click Escalate to let PayPal step in.
- Once you escalate, PayPal will start its own investigation. You will be notified once PayPal has made a decision.
If you suspect that you have been scammed, use the chargebacks for refunds. If you used a credit card or bank account to pay via PayPal, you can start a chargeback.
- Notify your bank about the suspicious transaction and request a chargeback.
- When PayPal gets a chargeback request, they will temporarily hold the funds in the seller’s account until your bank makes a decision.
Most banks and credit card companies give you 60 days from the transaction date to initiate a chargeback.
Cancel a Pending PayPal Transaction
If your payment on PayPal to a fake website is still pending, cancel it immediately. A pending transaction means that it has not been processed yet. Follow these steps:
- Go to your PayPal account summary.
- Look for the payment in question. It should be labeled “pending” and also mention “[user] hasn’t accepted yet.”
- Click Cancel next to the payment.
- Click Cancel Payment.
Consider a Credit Freeze Option
With a credit freeze, you can prevent a fake website that uses PayPal from opening accounts or securing loans in your name. Contact major credit bureaus for this service to lock in your Experian credit file.
Apart from potentially taking your money, a fake PayPal website also compromises your personal information, depending on how they have been set up. Unfortunately, PayPal cannot do all the job of protecting you, so it is up to you to do your own part. PayPal has millions of online businesses integrated into the platform, which unavoidably allows a fake website use PayPal and sometimes get away with it.
Just follow the simple guidelines in this post to stay safe. Most importantly, do not fall for unrealistic deals. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Ultimately, if you suspect someone has unauthorized access to your PayPal or has made fraudulent transactions, take these steps to protect your PayPal and bank account:
- Log into your PayPal account.
- Go to the Resolution Center.
- Select Report a Problem.
- Identify the suspicious transaction and proceed by clicking Continue.
- Choose “I Want to Report Unauthorized Activity” and follow the on-screen instructions.
You also want to protect your accounts by updating both your password and security questions. If not already enabled, activate two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra layer of protection. If you have been locked out of your account, reset your password immediately and inform your bank about the breach. YOu might also have to notify credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
How do I spot a fake, fraudulent, or phishing PayPal email or website? PayPal