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May 5, 2017

How to avoid getting your PayPal account hacked

Published: 5 May 2017 
PayPal is great, we love it <3
But... a hacked PayPal account absolutely sucks! Secure your account with these tips.

How secure is your account?

Why write about this?

I'm a search marketer and web tech guy so why write about PayPal?

In mid-April 2017 I received two emails from PayPal. Initially, I didn’t pay too much attention. Mistake #1

I’ve received lots of spam and even phishing emails claiming to be PayPal. Personally, I don’t use PayPal that frequently but we use it all the time for work. I figured this might be another case of that.

However, I decided I better read what the emails said. The first email informed me that my security questions had been changed, and the second stated I had sent a payment - £605, this converted to $1062.88 (AUD). I would definitely remember that, so quickly I logged into my Paypal account without clicking any links in the email (just in case it was bogus) and sure enough, the money had been transferred out.

Take Action - Dispute Any Bogus Transactions

There were instructions online about how to report unauthorised transactions, so I followed these steps and made the claim. One of the emails instructed me to call PayPal, but once I called, I was talking to a worker who could only instruct me on how to lodge a claim online - nothing could be done over the phone. I pretty much couldn’t stop the money from going out of my bank account, I had to wait for PayPal to complete their review first.

Wait... and wait....

I just had to sit and wait for a response, which I knew would be delayed due to this happening on a long weekend. Fortunately, two days later it was found that it was, in fact, fraudulent, and the money was noted as refunded. Unfortunately, although it was noted as refunded fairly quickly, the money was still taken out of my bank account, and a long 9 days later it was finally refunded.

... and get restricted

Once you’ve reported the suspicious activity to PayPal, your account will be restricted. While your account is restricted, you may not be able to send, withdraw or receive any funds.

This would be a huge issue for my business, Matter Solutions, but for me personally it wasn't much of a drama.

For personal or business accounts you need to confirm your identity through PayPal’s Resolution Centre.

You have to show proof of...

  1. name,
  2. date of birth,
  3. residential address.

PayPal has a list of documents which they deem suitable proof of ID.

It is important to note that you can’t use your driver's license for both, you will need to supply two separate IDs. Don’t bother submitting any form of ID that isn’t on the list, as this will get rejected.    

How can you avoid your PayPal account from being hacked

Follow these steps to ensure your PayPal account is as secure as possible:

Change your password

Someone unauthorised has used your account, which means they know your password. You need to make sure you change this immediately. Once you’re logged into your account, you can navigate to Security and change your password there.

There are a few tips to follow to make sure you pick a secure password:

  • Have a long password, with at least eight characters
  • Use a mix of letters and numbers, upper and lowercase, and special symbols
  • Don’t use the same password as on other websites
  • Avoid using details about yourself such as your name, and avoid using the obvious “password123”.

2. Check PayPal activity

The easiest way to know that you’ve been hacked is by continually checking your user activity. This will show a list of all the transactions you’ve made. If you don’t remember making one, you can report is as unauthorised.

3. Check other accounts

Did the hackers just get into your PayPal account, or have they gone into other accounts as well? Make sure to check your bank account, and check if you can still access your other accounts, particularly those that have the same password as your PayPal account. If you notice anything suspicious on other accounts, remember to report it and change your password.

4. Two-factor authentication

The first step to securing your PayPal account is by having a difficult password. You can make it even more difficult by having two-factor authentication active on your account. This means people will have to not only type in your password, but also answer security questions or enter a code. Make sure all your security questions are answered. You can also choose to have a code sent to your mobile which will need to be entered before gaining access to your PayPal account.

5. Scan for malware

In my case, three days prior to the hack I had changed my PayPal password, so I thought it was strange how soon after that it was that I got hacked. Considering no one had gained access to any of my other accounts, it was obvious how my account was hacked. I had malware on my laptop, and that’s how the hacker had gained access to my newly updated password. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove malware. You can use a free scanner such as Malwarebytes which will scan your computer and remove the malicious files.  

Following these steps will help secure your PayPal account and ensure you can avoid getting hacked and losing your money.

Want some help with your Website Security? CLICK FOR WEBSITE HELP

Got any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

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