There’s a scam going around involving one of the most popular payment apps – PayPal. It arrives in your email inbox and even shows up in the app. But, beware: it’s a criminal attempt to steal your money.
Fake PayPal invoices have been making the news and one has even appeared to a member of Team Clark. We reached out to PayPal for comment but have yet to hear back.
Beware: Fake PayPal Invoices Are Out To Get Your Money
Team Clark member Nicole says she’s been seeing comments from people on money expert Clark Howard’s social media accounts warning about fake PayPal invoices. She’s even received them in her own email inbox.
“We received several social comments saying that they too get fake invoices, and so do I,” she says. Although Nicole most recently got a fake PayPal invoice via email, “they will also pop up in my PayPal app in my list of ‘Activities’ with my regular transactions.”
Below is a screenshot of the email Nicole received. As you can see, “David Eng” — who she doesn’t know — wants $378. Presumably, if you tap the blue button, you’ll be taken to a way to pay.
Another fake invoice Nicole received in her PayPal app shows a fake invoice amount of $499.99.
How the Scam Works
The scam works by getting you to believe that you owe the sender money. If you click on any links or buttons – which you shouldn’t do – it will presumably prompt you to make a payment.
Unfortunately, because the notification legitimately comes from PayPal, it’s easy to fall victim to this scam.
“If I make a mistake and click the wrong button in the app, I’ve paid a fake invoice,” says Nicole.
Cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs says another version of the fake PayPal invoice scam sometimes includes a phone number.
“Scammers are using invoices sent through PayPal.com to trick recipients into calling a number to dispute a pending charge,” Krebs writes. “The missives — which come from Paypal.com and include a link at Paypal.com that displays an invoice for the supposed transaction — state that the user’s account is about to be charged hundreds of dollars. Recipients who call the supplied toll-free number to contest the transaction are soon asked to download software that lets the scammers assume remote control over their computer.”
How Do I Know if a PayPal Invoice Is Legit?
With this type of scam, which shows up to the user as originating from PayPal itself, it’s more difficult to tell if an invoice you receive from the payment app is legit or not.
Some things you can do to authenticate a PayPal email or app notification are:
- Log into PayPal.com or the app directly.
- Google the sender’s name with the word “scam” to see if anything comes up on the internet.
- Keep track of your PayPal transactions so that you can tell whether something you bought matches the invoice amount.
- Report any suspicious communication you get via app or on PayPal.com to [email protected].
How Clark Stays Safe from Scammers
The best way to make sure you’ll never be victimized by the fake PayPal invoice scam is to follow Clark’s rule about suspicious correspondence that comes from unknown people.
“Do not give up any information, nor click on anything in an email or a text — or share information in a phone call you did not originate.”