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Current PayPal Scam Emails – what to look for

Yet again I’m getting spammed with scam emails trying to get my information from me, so they can steal my identity. The one I got a lot of today was apparently from PayPal. My intention is to educate people on how to spot these phishing emails so that it’s not just current PayPal Scam Emails you spot, it’s ones from other well known places too that you may have an account – for example Amazon.com.

The subject of the emails differs, but the content remains the same (at least from this current batch of spam I’ve received). The subjects in my recent PayPal phishing emails have been:

  • We’re concerned that someone is using your PayPal account without your knowledge.
  • Log in to PayPal to resolve a limitation on your account
  • Recently, there’s been activity in your PayPal account that seems unusual compared to your normal account activities.
  • Please log in to PayPal to confirm your identity and update your password and security questions.
  • Change your password and security questions
  • …there will be many variations on this.

The emails in this batch of scams look like this:PayPal Scam Email Screenshot

PayPal Scam Email Screenshot

Let’s go through this bit by bit and I’ll show you how to spot that this is a scam or phishing email:

  1. If you look at who actually sent you the email, it’s not from PayPal it’s from some person I’ve never heard of with a domain I’ve never heard of from Russia (.ru)
  2. Formatting of the surrounding box is not well formed. I’m viewing the email in Outlook (desktop version) – every company that is serious about it’s emails, makes sure its communications by email are able to be viewed correctly in all the major email programs – whether web based or desktop based.
  3. This box just looks messy – the words Response required are on two lines and Upon receipt just seems as though it should have been part of “Response required”
  4. An ugly button for you to click – PayPal’s buttons are nicely formatted and smooth – eg:
    Real PayPal Button Screenshot

    Real PayPal Button Screenshot

  5. More ugly formatting – my Outlook has downloaded the images for this email, so the email should be displaying correctly.
  6. It says it’ll ask you to provide the information you gave when setting up your account – this should rung alarm bells – although you may have to do this on PayPal’s real site, it’s just a warning to be wary of anyone asking you for this information.
  7. This is a very badly formatted paragraph – the person who put it together must not be fully familiar with how to correctly format an HTML email.
  8. Similar to 7 – this doesn’t render correctly when viewed – REAL emails would always render correctly eg. this is the footer from a real communication from PayPal:
    Real PayPal Footer

    Real PayPal Footer

  9. Also notice the text on the scam footer: “Please do not reply to this email because we are not monitoring this inbox. To get in touch…” whereas PayPals far more eloquently put footer says: “Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal…” – can you see the difference between the two?
  10. An additional point – PayPal like most organisations that send emails to their members, will always use your name (First Name and Last Name) – the scam email is addressed to “Dear Member” – in this case, it should have been addressed “Dear Mark Tait”

Additional pointers for spotting scam or phishing emails

If you hover over the PayPal logo at the top of the email – the link it will take you to is shown – now I don’t know who thomas-whoever is – but the link I’d be taken to isn’t PayPal.com – and it doesn’t start with https:// (all links for PayPal will start with https://):

PayPal Scam Email Screenshot - hover over logo

Similarly any other link – whether text or a button will also take you to a phishing site:

PayPal Scam Email Screenshot - hover over link PayPal Scam Email Screenshot - hover over button

Reporting a Phishing Email to PayPal

PayPal takes these scams very seriously. Should you come across one, please report it to them by following this link: https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/phishing

Recommendation

An additional comment made by Gil from Wealthy Affiliate was to only ever log on to PayPal using the link you know to be correct – https://www.paypal.com – never log on by clicking a link on an email or website. Thanks Gil! The same is true of any online service you use – go through the links you know, no matter what – if there is an important message for you, when you log on in the proper way, there will be a message for you to let you know of any issue with your account.

More information on scams

If you would like more information on phishing and what it is, please click here. You’ll also find other example scams on that page too.

Thank you for reading this post. If it’s helped you, or if you have any questions, please leave them below.

All the best, Mark

Mark Tait
 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments
Tanti - May 8, 2014

Thanks for the info Mark,

I think we should never just click the link
We will get lost ‘somewhere’

Regards,
Tanti

Reply
    Mark Tait - May 8, 2014

    Hi Tanti – I agree – clicking anything could take you to a site that looks EXACTLY like the real site – when in fact it is a complete scam, designed to trick you into providing your details.

    All the best, Mark

    Reply
Zuzu - May 8, 2014

Hello Mark,

Thank you for sharing this important info. I’ve been scammed so many times, to the point where I was getting tons of calls on a daily basis, threatening me to pay debts that I have never heard for, if not that they will come at work and arrest me, bla bla bla. I told the guy “thank you for letting me know when you coming to arrest me and that I will wait for you”. lol.

Finally it got so annoying I had to change my number and all passwords, now so peaceful.

So Thank you for sharing, cause there are so money scammers out there, who take advantage of people.

Reply
    Mark Tait - May 9, 2014

    Hi -Zuzu thank you for sharing your story.

    I’m sorry you’ve fallen for these scams, but you’re the proof that this is a real life threat to us – and that we need to educate people into spotting these scams.

    All the best, Mark

    Reply
Della Hicks - July 1, 2014

Thank you for the information. Much appreciated.

Reply
    admin - July 1, 2014

    Hi Della – thank you for your comments.

    Kind regards, Mark

    Reply

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