PayPal says "case closed" on fraudulent transfers. Are these transactions not covered?
Why are there $900 in fraudulent charges on Saleh Tavassoli's PayPal account? And why won't PayPal help him remove them?
Q: I recently received seven fraudulent transactions on my PayPal account. I keep my account in euros, but these charges were in dollars. I've never sent anyone money in dollars.
I don't recognize the recipients. I immediately reported the transactions to PayPal. But four hours later, I received an automatic reply saying that they checked the transactions and everything is in order.
What should I do now? I've lost $900 and PayPal is not supporting me. Is there anything you can do to help me? -- Saleh Tavassoli, Berlin
A: I'm sorry about these charges. PayPal should have worked with you to find out who compromised your account and quickly issued a refund. Instead, it looks like you received an automated email that suggested no human eyes ever had a chance to review your complaint. That's disappointing.
It's not just the swiftness of PayPal's verdict that's troubling. It's the certainty.
"Case Closed," it says. "Transaction not covered."
"After reviewing your case, we found that the reported transactions were not unauthorized and hence couldn't be covered under PayPal Purchase Protection. We've noted the account changes you reported with this case."
The follow-up emails are no more encouraging, and no less automated: "We've reviewed the transaction(s) and are denying your claim(s). This decision was made because this transaction was not unauthorized. We're sorry for any problems you may have experienced with the transaction(s)."
The PayPal Purchase Protection agreement -- here's <a href="https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-safety-and-security">the U.S. version</a> -- is a vaguely worded promise to protect you from fraudulent purchases. It has enormous loopholes that allow PayPal to deny otherwise legitimate claims, which is exactly what happened to you.
You could have appealed this to someone higher up at PayPal. Contrary to what the company said, its decision isn't final. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of <a href="https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/paypal/">all the PayPal executives</a> on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
How do bogus charges show up on your PayPal account? Your account was compromised, which means someone got their hands on your password. Obviously, you should never give your password to anyone. But you can also turn on something like <a href="https://www.paypal.com/us/smarthelp/article/how-do-i-enable-2fa-(two-factor-authentication)-for-my-paypal-powered-by-braintree-user-faq3500">two-factor authentication</a>, which makes it much harder for a hacker to gain access to your account.
I like the way you kept a careful paper trail. You need that kind of documentation to prove that these were not legitimate charges. But sometimes, even the best documentation isn't good enough.
I contacted PayPal on your behalf. It reversed all the charges.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help
© 2021 Christopher Elliott.