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Help! My PayPal account and password was hacked. What can I do?

Updated on July 7, 2012
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PayPal Logo

Are you reading this because your account has been hacked recently?

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A compromised PayPal account is dangerous

The title to this section says it all. Are you ready to lose some money? Do you want to take a gamble with identity theft? You are probably saying no to both of these. In reality though, if your PayPal account was hacked, your identity is already stolen and you probably lost some cash. There is hope however and PayPal will do everything in their power to make things right.

If you are reading this, your account was probably compromised and you probably are stressed out and have many questions. In your best interest, I will cut to the chase.

Has your PayPal account ever been hacked?

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How did this happen? Why me?

First of all, there is no reason why a thief shouldn't choose you. If you use PayPal, you obviously purchase or do money transfers on the internet. There is one thing these thieves are after and one thing only. Money... If you are using PayPal, you have money, even if it's a little bit. It doesn't matter to them. They want it.

PayPal accounts can get hacked in many different ways. There is no shortage of ways to hack a PayPal account due to the fact that digital thieves are always coming up with new ways and building new tools to steal information. Information is a powerful tool these days too. Below I will state a few common ways that your account could have gotten compromised.

  • A keylogger is installed on your PC
  • You clicked on a phishing link in a fake email
  • You purchased something on a site that logs PayPal usernames and passwords

These are the most common ways that a PayPal account can get hacked. There are now steps that need to be taken to ensure that you become not at fault for the transactions in PayPal's eyes and to secure your account and make sure it doesn't get hacked again.

You need to contact PayPal by phone

You don't have to do this. You can dispute the transactions through the resolution center but I recommend that you talk with a fraud specialist one on one over the phone. This let's you talk to them and they can get information from you more easily. In order to contact PayPal by phone, you need to go to PayPal and click on the contact us link at the bottom of the page. If you log into your account, you will get a code that verifies you. If your username or password were changed and you can log in and reset your log in information, you will need to phone them anyway. I just recommend you phone them. It's better that way.

Once you phone them, they will ask you if you want to lock your account. I suggest you do this. The reason is that if you do not, and go and change your password, if you have a keylogger on your system the hacker will just go and continue the malicious activity. Lock your account. After you scan your system and confirm it's clean, you can call them back and have your account unlocked. It's a smart thing to do.

Make sure you report the fraudulent activity

While on the phone with the fraud specialist, if you haven't done so already, tell them about every transaction. Also, open up disputes in the resolution center after you get your account unlocked. This doubles the logged disputes both over the phone and through your account. If you decide to keep your account locked until after the investigation is completed, the phone dispute will be just fine.

Keep an eye out for legit PayPal emails that say that your investigation is over and that your were not at fault for any of the transactions. You will then unlock your account and reset the username and password. I suggest you give your PayPal account a new email and delete the previous one. Also, reset the password to an alpha numeric password using both capital and lowercase letters. Also use special characters such as @#$%&. This will strengthen your password tenfold.

Confirm there isn't a keylogger on your PC

If you have a keylogger on your PC, it doesn't matter how many times you reset the password. The hacker can still see whatever you set it to. You need to remove the keylogger and it's processes and registry entries. If you want to sniff one of these out, I suggest you take a look at one of my other articles, What is the best anti-virus software available. You will find some nifty programs that will find and destroy some malware and viruses, and even keyloggers. You will notice that I mention a program called Keyscrambler. This program is a godsend against keylogger software. It encrypts each keystroke you type so the hacker gets a bunch of encrypted letters that don't make sense.

Once you install and run those programs I mention in that article, run some scans to make sure everything comes back clean. Also, to be sure you got rid of it, open up task manager and look at your processes. Make sure there isn't anything suspicious running in your processes. Almost everything should have a tooltip next to it explaining what it is and the file name should explain what it is too.

If your scanner says there isn't a keylogger on your system but your account still gets hacked time and time again, you may want to consider reformatting your PC. This is a last resort and is a pain but in the end, you will come out the winner.

The best method is prevention

If you got a keylogger installed on your PC, I would suggest that you change your internet habits. This also goes for your account getting hacked period. This includes:

  • downloading pirated games etc. from torrents
  • using cracks
  • using serial generators or keygens
  • scan everything you download
  • don't open junk emails
  • only purchase from legit and trusted online sellers and stores
  • change your password every 3-5 months (most people won't do this)
  • don't use the same password for everything
  • confirm the PayPal email is legit by forwarding the email to spoof@paypal.com
  • use your head while using the internet :)

The best method is plain old prevention and using smart browsing habits. Having programs that scan and prevent is also not a bad idea, but nothing in life is perfect and everything has its flaws. These programs can and will be bypassed eventually. It's only a matter of time. If you follow a strict rule of thumb and scan every thing you download, meaning pictures, music, .exe files, php files, and everything in between, you should win this fight.

I hope that you learned what to do when your PayPal account gets hacked. I also hope your learned some methods to prevent it in the future. I know you don't want other people, especially malicious ones, in your personal information. Bad things happen. Thanks for reading and I hoped you enjoyed!

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