Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate PayPal

Millions of us have PayPal accounts, but for some reason, there are those who still haven’t linked any account to the original online payment processor. If you’re one of those folks, and if you do any kind of shopping, business or bill payments via the web, you’re missing out on an impressive and incredibly safe way of managing your finances.

A Recent Tale

Yesterday was a frantic and overwhelming day for a small business owner who conducts 100% of her work online. We’ll call her Liz. She’s a graphic artist who specializes in handwritten documents that are absolutely gorgeous. She’s done everything from wedding invitations to extensive documentation for individuals and corporations. She’s also the mother of twin daughters who are graduating college in a matter of weeks.

She begins her story with the arrival of three emails from PayPal. Recognizing the familiar subject line of “Receipt for your recent purchase”, she realizes she’s not bought anything all morning and there shouldn’t be any kind of charges. She immediately goes to her PayPal account and sure enough, there are three charges which when totaled, wipes out her entire PayPal balance. Worse, the text in the receipts that landed in her inbox were written in Japanese. She had no idea what the charges were.

She says she went into panic mode within two seconds. She clicked on the contact link and a screen popped up that asked if she’d like to set a code that would speed the process up when she dialed the 800 number. She did. She made her call and was immediately asked to insert the code she’d just been given. Within seconds, an operator came on the line.

I know he thought I was some kind of crazy woman, but I barely gave him a chance to say, ‘thank you for calling PayPal’

She says it didn’t occur to her at the time, but when she was greeted, the operator called her by name.

Same Passwords

After reassuring her they’d get to the problem, she was immediately transferred to the company’s fraud division. Again, she was greeted by name and given reassurances that they’d get to the bottom of it. What was so alarming was that Mike (not his real name either) told her he was watching efforts – in real time- being made from two cities in Japan and trying to move the funds into other accounts. Mike immediately put a freeze on her account. He asked Liz if she used the same passwords across the internet and specifically, Facebook. She said there were a couple of different places the same password was being used, including her social networking sites – and PayPal.

Take Your Time

At this point, he asked her to sign out of PayPal and go into her email account. He wanted her to first change her password on her primary email account, then he requested she specifically change her Facebook password right away (he also encouraged her to change all of her passwords across the board, but he said Facebook is sometimes the culprit in these attempts). He then asked her to click on the link he’d just sent her. This took her to the PayPal page that allowed her to change her password. He said,

Take your time and let me know when you’ve made your changes.

A minute later, she told him the changes had been made. He asked her to sign out of PayPal again and then sign back in. When she did, she saw that every cent had been restored to her account. Mike then “unfroze” her PayPal account and all the other bank accounts she had linked, including her business credit card.

And if you’re wondering how long all of this took, she said the call – in its entirety – was less than ten minutes. Her wait time was seconds between the time the first operator came on the line and when he transferred her, Mike immediately took the call. She’s calling it the

absence of the elevator music I usually have to hear when I’m calling other companies.

They Fixed It

Now, if the fast customer service, satisfactory ending and patient and understanding employees weren’t enough, consider this: her money was gone. Her balance showed zero and it appeared the transactions had been completed because the hackers were actually in her account.

This kind of fast response is often non-existent when it comes to fraudulent activity. Sure, every bank and credit card company offers the same services, but it usually takes days or weeks for the investigation to complete. It’s only after the money’s been proven to have been stolen and it’s been determined that you didn’t make those purchases and then forgot about them or that you weren’t the one trying to pull a fast one, that the money’s replaced. After she verified who she was via the pass code (she was also calling from one of the phone numbers associated with her account), the company operated on the story she told them. It didn’t question her or tell her they would investigate it. They simply fixed it.

Finally, the PayPal representative, Mike, explained briefly to her the extensive efforts the company makes to protect its customers. Liz couldn’t agree more. She has the money restored and with the graduations coming up, this has been one less stress to worry about. Except for the ten minutes it took to undo the damage.

If you do any kind of online business, and you don’t have a PayPal account, doing so could make life much safer in terms of protecting your identity and your business. You can easily and safely link your credit cards and/or bank accounts so that you have this extra protection across the board.

In this day and age, and considering how easy it is for some hackers, every weapon available for us should be used. It’s clear there are those who thrive on stealing what doesn’t belong to them. When a company the size of PayPal steps up to the plate for its customers, it’s a very satisfying sense of safety.

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