It’s been said that fame comes at a price, and PayPal can attest to that. While it can be considered the world’s most widely used payment processing platform, it’s also the most abused. Any user can fall prey to any of these 11 scam types. We’ll zoom in on one of the most commonly seen—PayPal invoice scams.

What Is a PayPal Invoice Scam?

A PayPal invoice scam is a type of online fraud where scammers try to deceive individuals or businesses using fake invoices. Their goal? To trick recipients into sending money or their personal information to scammers in the guise of legitimate PayPal transactions. While this scam can take many forms, they typically involve the same components.

What Are the Components of PayPal Invoice Scams?

You can identify every PayPal invoice scam by its components—a fake invoice, an unsolicited email, a false sense of urgency, a fake payment link, and their combined result, data and financial theft. Learn more about each below.

  • Fake invoice: As the most critical part of any PayPal invoice scam, the scammers need to create a fraudulent invoice that appears to come from the payment processor. These invoices often feature the official PayPal logo, follow the company’s branding, and use convincing PayPal look-alike email addresses.
  • Unsolicited email: The scammers must craft and send an unsolicited email to the target individual or business. It should claim that they owe the sender money for a product or service. The email should also contain a link to the fake invoice or the invoice as an attachment.
  • False sense of urgency: Most often than not, the scammers inject a sense of urgency or use some kind of pressure tactic to manipulate the recipient into taking immediate action—pay the amount stated in the invoice. They may, for instance, claim that failure to pay will result in legal action, account suspension, or some other dire consequence.
  • Fake payment link: Scammers typically include a payment link that appears to lead to a PayPal payment page. But that link actually directs the victim to a fake PayPal look-alike website specially crafted to steal their login credentials or financial information.
  • Data and financial theft: Every PayPal invoice scam aims to steal money. But in some cases, the scammers also attempt to collect victims’ personal information, such as their Social Security numbers, email and street addresses, or credit card details, under the pretense of identity verification or supposed payment issue resolution.
Telltale Signs of PayPal Invoice Scams

How Can You Avoid Becoming a PayPal Invoice Scam Victim?

Despite the ingenuity of PayPal invoice scammers, you can avoid becoming their next victim by following these best practices.

  • Verify the email’s source: Always double-check a sender’s email address and ensure it matches the official PayPal domain— Avoid clicking links embedded in or downloading attachments to unsolicited emails.
  • Hover over links: Hover your mouse cursor over any link in the email to preview the actual URL. Be cautious of suspicious URLs or those that don’t match official PayPal website links.
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on your account to enhance its security and prevent unauthorized access.
  • Log in directly: Instead of clicking links embedded in an email, manually type into your web browser and log in directly to your account to check for outstanding invoices or notifications.
  • Beware of that sense of urgency: Scammers often create a false sense of urgency to pressure you into making a hasty decision. Take your time to verify the legitimacy of any invoice or payment request.
  • Educate yourself: Stay informed about common scam and phishing tactics. Regularly review PayPal’s official website for information on recognizing and reporting scams.

If you suspect you received a fraudulent invoice or think you’ve fallen prey to a scam, report it to PayPal immediately and take the necessary steps to secure your account and personal information.

PayPal constantly updates users about threats via its website. Take a look at specific information on invoice and money request scams and how to avoid them from this page.