PayPal users have been warned that scams are reportedly 'on the rise' on the payment platform.

The online payment processing site is an 'appealing' target for fraudsters according to a cybersecurity expert.

Theodor Porutiu from has outlined eight of this year's most common PayPal scams.

To help users protect themselves, Mr Porutiu has also shared some top tips to help you avoid falling victim to them too. 

Swindon Advertiser: Here are eight of the most common PayPal scams to watch out for in 2023. ( Canva)Here are eight of the most common PayPal scams to watch out for in 2023. ( Canva) (Image: Canva)

Most common PayPal scams of 2023 to watch out for

1. The “problem with your account” scam 

The VPNOverview expert says that email is a scammer’s preferred method of stealing your money which means that we need to be extra vigilant.

PayPal users may receive a phishing email that claims there is an issue with their PayPal account.

The email will include a link and a request that you click on it to log into your account.

Mr Porutiu added that these scams are some of the most common social engineering attacks designed to gain access to your PayPal account.

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

The second scam to watch out for is an email that offers a cash rebate or other financial incentive.

The email will say that you a login to a PayPal account is required to verify a few details to claim that reward. 

Like other email scams, the link in the email leads to a fake PayPal website.

By clicking on the link and entering login credentials, the scammers get access to those all-important details. 

3. The “advance payment” scam 

The 'advance payment' scam is designed to play on a victim's emotions by informing them that they have 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), Mr Porutiu explained.

Once a person sends the small sum, they never hear from the scammer again, and they are out the money you sent. 

4. The “shipping address” scam 

"Scammers have a ton of shipping tricks up their sleeve to try and steal your money from PayPal," Mr Porutiu warned.

While unsolicited emails can lead you to fake websites, these scam methods involve actually engaging with users on the real PayPal platform. 

The target audience for these types of scams are those who sell items online.

There are several common PayPal scams that involve shipping addresses to be on the lookout for, according to the cybersecurity expert:

  • The buyer wants to use a preferred shipping method: The buyer will ask you to ship their item using their preferred shipping company, easily reroute the package to a different address, then contact PayPal and file a claim for non-receipt and ask for a full refund. Since you cannot prove the item wasn’t received, you’re out the money, the item, and even the shipping fees.
  • The buyer provides their own shipping label: The buyer will offer to send you a pre-paid shipping label, reroute the package to a different delivery address and claim they never received the item.
  • The buyer gives a fake shipping address: When the shipping company cannot deliver the package to the invalid delivery address provided, the scammer will then step in and provide a new, legitimate delivery address, but since the package gets rerouted, the buyer will allege they never received the item.

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5. The “alternate payment method” scam 

Explaining the alternative payment scam, Mr Porutiu commented: "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".

Mr Porutiu went on to remind PayPal users that although this may sound appealing since it eliminates the fee that PayPal levies on standard sale transactions, paying for goods is not permitted under the Friends and Family money transfer option.

Swindon Advertiser: PayPal scams are reportedly 'on the rise' so here are eight of the most common methods to be on the lookout for. ( Getty Images)PayPal scams are reportedly 'on the rise' so here are eight of the most common methods to be on the lookout for. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

He added: "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."

6. The “payment pending” scam 

The way that the 'payment pending' scam works is that a buyer will engage with a seller on PayPal regarding payment for an item they sell.

They will message them, claiming to have made the payment, but that PayPal won’t release the money to them until the seller provides a shipment tracking number. 

The scammer wants the victim to ship the product and provide the tracking number before the seller gets paid.

If the seller does that, the fraudulent buyer gets the item and disappears without paying. 

7. 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 their victims for contributions via PayPal to fake charities. 

8. The “callback phishing email” scam 

The callback phishing email scam, Mr Porutiu explained, involved an email warning of “suspicious activity” in a PayPal account, usually with large transactions involved.

He added: "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.

"This scam can be quite convincing for multiple reasons: The scammers used email addresses, realistic email designs, and even created fake invoices to create a sense of urgency. "

Newsquest has approached PayPal for comment but for further advice on how to spot fake or fraudulent PayPal communications, visit the PayPal website.

Swindon Advertiser: Here are VPN Overivew's top tips to avoid falling victim to PayPal scams. ( Canva)Here are VPN Overivew's top tips to avoid falling victim to PayPal scams. ( Canva) (Image: Canva)

Top tips on how to avoid PayPal scams 

There are several actions you should take to avoid getting scammed, according to the cybersecurity experts at VPN Overview:

1. Never send money outside PayPal if you transacted on the website.

For instance, if you conduct a transaction on PayPal but your customer accidentally sends a larger amount than agreed upon. This other person now wants a refund sent through a different platform, but if you comply with their request, PayPal will not be able to help you since the refund was processed outside of their system. If a buyer overpays you, cancel the transaction immediately and start over. 

2. Always use your own shipping method

When you choose the shipping method, you control delivery and cannot be tricked with bogus shipping labels or rerouted packages. 

3. Only ship to the address on the Transaction Details page

When you ship only to this address, you satisfy one of the requirements of PayPal’s Seller Protection program.

4. Only deal with verified buyers and sellers

Verifying a PayPal account can be troublesome, and it requires sharing personal information with the platform.

So, anyone that did it is most likely not a scammer. If you do business with non-verified PayPal accounts, proceed with extreme caution.

5. Be wary of email links and attachments

Never click on email links, even if they look legitimate. Logging in to your PayPal account directly in your browser or app is much safer.

6. Get a good antivirus

Some PayPal scammers will try to get malware on your computer. Never download anything sent to you via email, and use reliable antivirus software, such as Norton.

7. Only contact PayPal using the number listed on its website

You should also remember that official PayPal communications will always address you by name.