I was in the car earlier this afternoon when I got an e-mail alert saying I added a new card to my Paypal account. I’m like WTF. I did no such thing. I even compared the last 4 digits of the numbers on the card to the numbers of the cards in my wallet. No match. Anyhow I quickly logged in my Paypal account via my mobile phone. My heart sank when I saw that the new credit card had been added and P22k had been withdrawn from my Paypal account to the new credit card. It was IMMEDIATELY verified by Paypal. Now how did that happen??? Normally when you add a new card you have to wait for their verification code in your monthly statement. This one was added and approved so fast the culprit was able to withdraw P22k right away. The withdrawal currently has a pending status but reporting the unauthorized transaction to Paypal has been a VERY FRUSTRATING experience to say the least.
Looking around the Paypal site I was directed to the Resolution Center so I can “Report a problem”. The problem is I CAN’T because it’s not any of the following enumerated concerns — it’s not an item I didn’t receive, it’s not the wrong item, and it’s not an unrecognized payment. It’s an unauthorized withdrawal damn it and it’s not in Paypal’s multiple choice selection of problems so there was no way for me to dispute it online. Whenever I would enter the transaction number it would be marked as INVALID because well, it’s not any of the three problems this part of the site is programmed to address.
So I was off to the Customer Support section. There are two choices: Call us or E-mail us. I called. Yes I made an overseas call to Paypal USA because that was the only number available. They were closed, they will be opening 4am PST which is like 7pm here in Manila. So I e-mailed. I got an automated response that they will TRY to get back to me within 24 hours but not over 72 hours.
So now I’m waiting until the clock strikes 7pm.
I checked the transaction records and I know that it was a Russian hacker that did this because Paypal reflected currency conversion charges from Russian Rubles to US dollars to Philippine Pesos for the “card verification charge”.
I’m super pissed and I feel unsafe.
Something like this actually happened to my hubby’s Paypal account a few years back. Someone used his Paypal to pay for thousands worth of online shopping purchases. He also ended up making an overseas call to Paypal USA in order to contest it. Lucky for us the problem was resolved and Paypal returned the money.
Anyhow, I have a few suggestions for Paypal and I HOPE SOMEONE FROM PAYPAL reads this:
- If you see that any new transaction reflects a currency that’s not in US Dollars and is different from the user’s native currency (in my case Philippine Pesos), please add another layer of security to verify it. I find it appalling that Paypal IMMEDIATELY authorized a new card that was in Russian Rubles. WTF.
- Please don’t make it SO HARD to report or dispute an UNAUTHORIZED non-purchase related transaction like this one. Every second counts when you are set to lose a big amount of money and it was really frustrating to be given the runaround at the Paypal website.
- Please consider having a 24-hour hotline because people from ALL OVER THE WORLD are required to call Paypal USA for urgent matters.
Right now I need to wait another 30 minutes before I can call Paypal USA. I can only hope my Paypal horror story gets a happy ending.
UPDATE as of 8:10PM:
I called Paypal USA at exactly 7pm Manila time. It rang and it was answered by a machine which gave kept giving me repetitious choices. I was answering and answering but the machine would not let me talk to anyone. So I kept repeating “I need to talk to someone!” and an extension rang after so many repeated canned messages. I was finally on the line with a Paypal USA rep. The problem was, the rep asked me what the problem was and asked for details like my name, e-mail add, and last 4 digits of my credit card plus an account of what happened. Repeat 4x. Yes, I was passed around to different departments 4x. I was seething by the time I got to the 4th person. I said look buddy, you’re the 4th person I’ve talked to and I’m calling overseas from the Philippines. My phone bill must be sky high by now. OMG, almost thirty minutes on the phone and I was still being passed around. Anyhow 4th person asked for my number and told me he would call me back. He did and he forwarded me to 5th person. At last, 5th person was actually the correct person to talk to regarding my concerns.
Since the card verification fee was paid in Russian Rubles, I was able to quickly prove that the new card added to my account today was not mine. I told them I’m based in the Philippines and I don’t have any accounts in Russia. In fact I’ve never even been to Russia. 5th person emailed me a custom link for me to again change my password (I changed it after I got the e-mail notification that I added a new card). She also reversed the charges and refunded the P22k that was withdrawn from my account.
Although I can now breathe easier, I still feel unsafe. How the heck did my Paypal account get hacked? That’s one of the risks when you rely on online services I guess. Anyhow, I was able to act fast because my Paypal account was linked to my primary email account which is always online. I was notified immediately after the fraudulent card was added — that was around 3PM today. I guess it’s really not safe to leave funds lying around in your Paypal account so starting today I’ll make it a point to withdraw as soon as the minimum is reached.
I’d like to thank everyone who messaged me suggestions on how to go about this, as well as those who shared similar experiences they had with their Paypal accounts. This incident has prompted me to go over all my accounts, strengthen the passwords, and perhaps add extra layers of security.
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