Below are tips for identifying fake PayPal emails or scams.
Faked sender email address
Fraudsters can easily fake the “friendly name” in the sender’s email address. For example, an email can appear to be from “PayPal Services,” but actually be from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some email clients make it hard to see the real name. But if you mouse over the friendly name or click “Reply,” you should be able to see the full email address of the sender. Sophisticated fraudsters can fake the entire name to look like a legitimate sender, so be careful.
Though verifying a correct sender address is important, it’s not enough. It’s important to look at the entire email. When you check your account, always enter "www.paypal.com" into your browser instead of clicking a link in an email.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Advance fee fraud
Most of us are careful if a stranger approaches on the street and offers a deal that's just too good to be true. But we're much less cautious online, which puts us at risk. If you get an offer for free money, there's probably a catch. Typically, fraudsters will ask you to send some smaller amount (for taxes, for legal documents, etc.) before they can send you the millions you are promised, but which they never intend to send you.
Verify through your PayPal account
If you receive an email that says that you've received a PayPal payment, take a moment to log in to your PayPal account before you ship any merchandise. Make sure that money has actually been transferred, and that it isn’t just a scam. Remember not to follow email links. The safest way to access your account is always to open a browser window, navigate to PayPal.com, and enter your login info.
Be aware of telltale signs of fraud
Messages asking you to pay a small handling fee to collect some fabulous prize are usually a scam. “High-Profit No-Risk” investments are usually scams. Messages insisting that you “Act Now!” for a great deal are often scams.
Scammers use disasters to trick kind-hearted people into donating to fake charities. This usually happens when there is a refugee crisis, a terrorist attack, or a natural disaster (like an earthquake, flooding, or famine). Thoroughly check the background of any charity to make sure your donation goes to real victims. If a charity does not have a website, for instance, be cautious.
How to identify real PayPal emails
An email from PayPal will:
Come from paypal.com. Scammers can easily fake the “friendly name,” but it’s more difficult to fake the full name. A sender like “PayPal Service (email@example.com)" is not a message from PayPal. But sophisticated scammers can sometimes fake the full name, so look for other clues.
Address you by your first and last names, or your business name.
An email from PayPal won't:
Ask you for sensitive information like your password, or credit card number. Contain any attachments or ask you to download or install any software.