I’m kinda freaking out: I just got a receipt via email for an almost $500 purchase that I apparently made through Paypal to buy a cellphone from LWP Electronics, to be shipped to someone in Maine. But I didn’t make the purchase and when I log in to my Paypal account, I don’t see any trace of the transaction. What’s going on?
Kudos to you for recognizing that any time you get any email about Paypal or any other online commerce system, you should always log in to the site directly rather than clicking on any sort of link that might be embedded in the mail. Why? Because you have receive a “phishing” message from some malicious person who is trying to get your account and password so he (or she) can log in and send all your money to their own account.
I’m betting you got the following message:
If you’re familiar with Paypal messages, you’ll immediately be suspcious about the convenient “if you need to dispute this charge” link on the bottom, as legit Paypal transaction receipts just end with “Thank you for using PayPal! The PayPal Team” and a PayPal Email ID. No small print, no links back to your account, nothing.
Even if you’re not familiar with Paypal email receipts, you should always be following the basic rule of Never click on embedded links that lead to log in pages!
Many email programs will also show you on a status bar or as a tooltip or hover box the destination of a given clickable URL too. In Microsoft Entourage, for example, moving the cursor over “Dispute Transaction” shows:
It’s a safe bet that Paypal isn’t using a Russian site to channel disputes, so if there was any question about authenticity of the message, that should immediately end any worries!
Be careful out there, everyone. There are smart phishers and hackers trying to get our money, bank account info, Paypal login, and much more, every day. And once gotten, it’s sometimes impossible to fix or recover things, as I hear about every day with people who have been duped into revealing their Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL or other account information and passwords.