An unsolicited PayPal call is always a scam. But there are many ways you can effectively protect yourself from this PayPal trap
Fake PayPal call scam: how to act correctly
This scam with alleged PayPal calls is relatively new. “Hello, this is PayPal. You’ve just sent €700 to Basecoin. To avert this accusation, press 1!” This or something similar is the fake phone call with an AI-generated voice, as reported by the State Criminal Police Office of Lower Saxony, for example. When you press 1 on your phone, a call center employee answers. This person will forcefully ask you to disclose your private data or download an infected file. But the following practical tips should protect you from these brazen telephone scammers.
- Hang up immediately! A fake shock call like this is not from PayPal and causes stress. The best defense against this attempted scam is to end the call immediately. This applies to all Internet users and not just those who do not have a PayPal account
- Do not press any number keys! This will prevent you from being connected to a call center employee, who usually speaks English, and being forced to take disadvantageous actions.
- Do not reveal any personal data! If you have pressed the aforementioned button after this shock call, you must not disclose your personal data. This includes your account details, passwords and postal addresses. In particular, you should not upload pictures of sensitive documents, e.g. your identity card or passport. Here too, the best solution is to end the call
- Do not download any external files! Do not comply with this request from a call center employee so that you do not catch a virus. This could allow the fraudsters to remotely control your computer and, for example, actually take a lot of money from your PayPal account or your bank account. It goes without saying that you should hang up after such fraudulent requests
- Check your PayPal account! After logging in to PayPal, you can check whether there have really been any debits from your PayPal account. As a rule, there have been no unauthorized transfers. However, if you have been taken in by the criminals, you should inform PayPal about this fraud. The staff there will help you and, above all, block your PayPal account
- Report this attempted fraud to PayPal and the police! Contact PayPal customer service by calling 0800 723 4500 free of charge from a landline. The payment service will then take effective countermeasures. Also file a report with the police, who collect as many criminal cases as possible. This makes it easier to prosecute the fraudsters.
- Do not answer suspicious calls! Of course, you can also check your phone or cell phone immediately after it rings to see if the caller’s phone number is unknown or missing. You should not answer suspicious calls at all. You can block the numbers of unwanted callers with your Internet provider or in your router.
Where did the scammers get your phone number from?
If you have been called in an attempted scam, the question arises as to how the criminals obtained your telephone number. The following four possible answers apply to all Internet users and also to those who do not have a PayPal account.
- The fraudsters did not know your telephone number because your telephone number was dialed at random, i.e. “on the off chance”.
- Here too, the hackers did not know your telephone number, because your telephone number was generated by a computer. The computer only calls minimally changed telephone numbers one after the other
- Often the fraudsters knew your telephone number because it was bought on the black market. You may have previously taken part in a harmless prize draw or competition and left your telephone number. Such phone numbers are offered for sale on the darknet, i.e. in the hidden part of the Internet. Fraudsters also collect promising numbers from telephone directories.
- Occasionally, the fraudsters knew your phone number because one of your apps had several malicious functions. As a result, your PayPal contact details were read out unnoticed, stored and misused by criminals.