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PayPal Account Hacked? Here's How To Recover It

Is your PayPal account hacked? Learn the warning signs and how to prevent scammers from stealing your money and personal information.

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      Was Your PayPal Account Hacked? Don’t Panic!

      You might think PayPal is a safe place for your money. But when one Reddit user checked their balance in March 2023, they discovered that their PayPal account was hacked — and $4,000 was missing [*].

      PayPal is one of the world’s most popular payment platforms. But with 433 million active account holders, it's also an attractive target for cybercriminals [*].

      Nearly 35,000 PayPal accounts were hacked in December 2022, as part of a sophisticated credential stuffing attack [*].  

      E-commerce losses to online payment fraud are set to hit $48 billion in 2023, and the warning cries are loud and clear: you need to be on guard to protect your PayPal account — as well as your online financial life [*].

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      How To Tell If Your PayPal Account Has Been Hacked

      Hackers attempt to exploit PayPal users with various tactics, including malware, phishing emails, and credential-stuffing attacks. But quite often, your PayPal account is hacked because an intruder got hold of your password — often through a data breach

      Someone who gains access to your PayPal account can make unauthorized purchases and transactions. After the initial theft, the thief could lock you out of your account. You may even fall prey to identity theft if the crook steals or sells your personally identifiable information (PII).

      Although PayPal uses cybersecurity measures like fraud monitoring and security keys, skilled hackers always pose a threat to payment platforms. 

      Here are seven warning signs that your PayPal account has been hacked:

      • You can’t log in to your PayPal account. Hackers often change your password to lock you out — leaving them free to steal your funds and manipulate your account for other fraudulent purposes. 
      • There are unfamiliar charges or transfers made from your account. If you spot any unrecognized charges on your credit card or bank statements, it’s worth contacting the banks and merchants to find out more.
      • You receive strange notifications. If you get unexpected emails or text messages from PayPal, don’t ignore them. Pay close attention to password reset requests, changes to account details, or logins from different countries. 
      • You’re denied payment due to a lack of funds. If your attempted payment on Amazon or another online store fails, a hacker might have gained access to your PayPal account and drained your balance. 
      • Unfamiliar devices appear in the list of active sessions. If you view your login activity (in your PayPal account's security settings) and see unfamiliar devices or IP addresses, someone else may have gained access to your account. 
      • Someone has changed your address, email, or contact details. If you suddenly stop receiving account-related notifications or email confirmations after making purchases, find out why. Hackers may have changed the email address linked to your PayPal account to cover their tracks.
      • Difficulty resetting your PayPal account password. Another clear sign indicating that your PayPal has been hacked is when you receive error messages upon attempting to recover the account. Fraudsters often change the phone number or email address that you listed as the recovery option, making it impossible for you to get back into the account.

      💡 Related: The 14 Latest PayPal Scams (and How To Avoid Them)

      ⚡️ Act fast to shut down hackers! Aura’s AI-powered all-in-one intelligent safety solution protects your identity, finances, accounts, and devices with award-winning digital security tools. Try Aura free for 14 days and safeguard yourself and your family against fraudsters.

      How To Recover a Hacked PayPal Account

      When a hacker targets your PayPal account, it’s a stressful experience. If you don’t have robust multi-factor authentication (MFA), your password is the only line of defense in keeping criminals out.

      If you suspect your PayPal account is in the crosshairs of cybercriminals, you need to take action. How you react will depend on whether or not you can still access the account with your password.

      The guidelines below will help walk you through the recovery process if your PayPal account has been targeted by hackers.

      What To Do If Someone Is Trying To Hack Your PayPal Account

      The first step is to try logging in to your account. If you still have access to the account, follow these steps:

      Step 1: Look for the warning signs of a hack

      First, confirm that there’s a breach by making some quick verifications on your PayPal account.  

      • Log in to your PayPal account by using your password and username. 
      • Explore your profile for suspicious activity. Look through your transaction histories, including archived and pending transfers. 
      • Note the details of any unfamiliar transactions. Don't overlook small amounts — thieves usually test stolen cards with small purchases before draining the balance. 
      • Review your notifications. Look for any alerts about changes to the account details, including your name and email address.
      • Check your emails for notifications from PayPal. A savvy hacker may disguise their activity on your account. Look out for email alerts from PayPal about unfamiliar logins or password changes. 
      • Try to make a payment with PayPal. If a website denies an attempted PayPal purchase, you should find out why immediately. 
      • Review your online bank statements. It’s wise to double-check for any unrecognized transactions at the source of your funds — especially if your PayPal payments are being denied. 

      💡 Related: Have I Been Hacked? How To Recognize & Recover From a Hack

      Step 2: Change your PayPal account password and security questions

      If you spot warning signs of a hacked PayPal account, you can lock out the perpetrators with a new password. It’s good to update your password and security questions periodically, especially if your personal data is circulating on the Dark Web

      Here's how to change your password:

      • Visit PayPal.com on your smartphone or computer. It’s not always possible to change your password through the app. 
      • Go to “Settings,” and then to the Security” tab above your name.
      • Select “Update” next to “Password.
      • Confirm your current password.
      • Enter your new password twice, then select “Change Password.”

      Here's how to change your security questions:

      • Go to “Settings” in your PayPal account.
      • Select the Security” tab above your name.
      • Select “Update under your security questions.
      • Open the dropdown menus for both security questions. Select a question for each, and enter your answers.
      • Select “Save to confirm the new security questions.

      Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your account

      PayPal's 2-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account. To enable this feature, you must use your web browser — it's not possible to adjust the 2FA setting via the PayPal App. 

      Here's how to set up PayPal’s 2-step verification:

      • On the web version of PayPal, select the “Settings” icon (next to the “Log out” option).
      • Select “Security,” and then “Set Up” to the right of "2-step verification."
      • Choose how to receive 2FA codes. We recommend that you "Use an authenticator app" like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator.
      • Click on “Set it Up and follow the on-screen prompts.

      Note: PayPal customers should be aware that if you enable 2-step verification via text and decide to turn it off, you won’t be able to re-enable this security feature again later

      Step 4: Review your other online accounts, and update security settings

      If your PayPal has been hacked, your other accounts could be at risk. Once you secure your account, make sure that any other linked or associated accounts are safe, as well. 

      Here’s what to do:

      • Change any shared credentials. 65% of people reuse passwords across multiple online platforms [*]. After a data breach, make sure that you create new, strong passwords for each individual account to stop hackers from taking over multiple accounts.
      • Beware of personal information exposure. Scammers create synthetic identities by combining stolen personal information — like full names, dates of birth, or Social Security numbers (SSNs). Hackers could obtain personal data from your PayPal account and apply for loans in your name. 
      • Watch for phishing attempts. By impersonating you or PayPal, the scammers could lure your family into other scams or trick you into revealing sensitive information. 
      • Don’t ignore password recovery messages. A hacker in control of your PayPal account could initiate password recovery processes for your other online accounts, including your social media or online banking. 
      • Remove any linked financial accounts. Linking your PayPal to your bank or Stripe may put more of your financial life at risk. Contact any linked financial institution to change your account or card numbers.
      🥇 Don’t settle for second-best digital security. Aura’s award-winning technology has been rated #1 by Forbes, Money.com, Tech Radar, and more. Try Aura free for 14 days and secure your accounts, finances, and identity with award-winning technology.

      How To Recover a PayPal Account That Has Been Hacked

      If you can't gain access to your account (and are confident that you have the right login credentials), consider this a major red flag. It's likely that your PayPal account was hacked. 

      Now, you need to act quickly to limit the damage hackers can do to your Paypal and other accounts. 

      Here’s what to do:

      Step 1: Try to reset your PayPal account password

      To create a new PayPal password after a hack, follow these steps:

      • On your web browser, go to PayPal’s official website. Alternatively, open the PayPal app on your phone or tablet.
      • When you’re on the website or app homepage, select “Forgot password?
      • Enter your email address for PayPal, then select “Next.”
      • Select an option for the security check, then select “Next.
      • Once you complete the security check, you will be prompted to create a new password.

      If you can update your password, you should be safe from hackers. But it’s still important to check your security and account settings to make sure that your backup email or other contact details haven’t been changed. 

      Step 2: Contact PayPal as a guest caller

      If you can’t reset your password, you need to contact PayPal’s support team. 

      Normally, you can get in touch by selecting the “Call Us” option at the bottom of PayPal’s contact page

      However, this option requires you to log in. If you can’t gain access to your account, select the call us as a guest” option to view PayPal’s telephone number or send a message to a live agent online.

      The support team will need to verify your identity and will ask you to provide:

      • Your telephone number
      • The email address that you used to register your PayPal account
      • A statement for the bank account or credit card linked to your PayPal account

      Step 3: Secure your PayPal account

      If your PayPal was hacked, it’s crucial that you tighten your account’s security measures to avoid further attacks. 

      Here’s what to do after you regain access to your account:

      • Create a stronger password. Aim for a unique combination of 12 or more characters, and include a mix of symbols, numbers, and letters. 
      • Review privacy and security settings. Make sure you aren’t openly sharing your personal information, like your phone number and address. 
      • Update your device software. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in older software. Download the latest version of the PayPal app, and use a reliable antivirus software to combat bugs and malware threats.

      Step 4: Review your account information and recent activity

      You may be able to see evidence of unauthorized third parties in your account. Look through your profile and transactions for anything unfamiliar, such as:

      • Changes to your personal details
      • Changes to your contact information, especially your email address
      • Unrecognized transactions (either pending or approved)

      Step 5: Report fraudulent transactions to PayPal’s Resolution Center

      If you spot anything suspicious, immediately report the issue to PayPal's customer support through the Resolution Center

      To report unauthorized activity on the web: 

      • Go to the Resolution Center.
      • Select "Report a problem" and select the payment you want to report. 
      • Next, select "I want to report unauthorized activity" and follow the steps to submit your report.

      To report unauthorized activity on the app: 

      • Open your Wallet, and navigate to the “Activity” tab.
      • Tap on the payment that you want to report.
      • Next, tap on the "Report a Problem" button, and choose the reason for your report. 
      • Follow the prompts to complete your report, and take action to protect your account. 

      Note: If you want to report unauthorized transactions to PayPal, you must file a dispute within 180 days of the purchase date. Once you submit your report, PayPal will investigate and respond by email within 10 days.

      Step 6: Freeze your credit

      Contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus individually to request a credit freeze. This step prevents anyone from obtaining new loans or credit accounts in your name.

      Here’s how to contact each of the three credit bureaus:

      Experian
      Equifax
      TransUnion
      1-888-397-3742
      1-800-685-1111
      1-888-909-8872
      Experian Security Freeze — P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
      Equifax Information Services LLC — P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
      TransUnion LLC – P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

      Step 7: Contact your bank or other financial institutions

      Don't stop with PayPal — any debit cards or credit cards linked to your PayPal account may be at risk. 

      To secure your financial accounts:

      • Contact the card issuer. Ask to speak to their fraud department and tell them that your PayPal was hacked. 
      • Ask them to cancel the cards. They can issue new cards and PINs to a secure address.
      • Request that they reverse any fraudulent charges. You will need to provide details about which charges you’re disputing, and give the bank time to investigate. 
      • Notify other lenders or potentially affected accounts. This includes credit unions and loan companies. Their offices can place a fraud alert on your file and let you know if there are any attempts to take out credit in your name. 

      💡 Related: How To Dispute a Fraudulent Credit Card Charge

      Step 8: File a report with The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

      The FTC investigates consumer fraud. You can get in touch to explain the situation with your PayPal:

      • For fraud: File a report at ReportFraud.FTC.gov. Provide full details of the fraud, including dates, transactions, and supporting notes — such as screenshots of emails.
      • For identity theft: If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, submit a report of the incident at IdentityTheft.gov.

      Keep the official report and recovery plan from the FTC. These documents will help you dispute fraudulent charges with banks and vendors.

      Step 9: Notify local law enforcement

      You can also file a police report, which is especially pertinent if you believe the hacker is in the local area. Bring your FTC report and all supporting evidence about PayPal fraud for the police to open an investigation. 

      🛡 If your PayPal was hacked, your identity and bank account could be at risk. Hackers won’t stop with your PayPal account. Try Aura free for 14 days to protect yourself against identity theft, fraud, and further hacking.

      Can You Get Your Money Back From a Hacked PayPal Account?

      While there’s no guarantee that you can get your money back after having your PayPal account hacked, these three methods can improve your chances — and limit the damage.

      Option 1: Cancel pending payments

      If you spot a fraudulent payment quickly, it may be possible to stop the transfer and get a refund. 

      • Go to your PayPal account summary.
      • Locate the payment listed as "pending." This message indicates that the funds have not yet landed in the recipient’s account.
      • Select "Cancel" under the payment, and then tap on "Cancel Payment" to stop the transaction. 

      Option 2: Use PayPal’s Purchase Protection plan

      PayPal’s Purchase Protection offers coverage if a product you bought doesn't arrive or doesn’t meet the seller's description — for example, if you receive a different item than the one you purchased, or if you receive something that is broken or in poor condition. 

      To dispute the transaction with PayPal’s Purchase Protection:

      Try to resolve the issue with the seller first by getting a replacement or refund. You have 20 days from the date of purchase to get a refund. 

      Open a dispute if the seller isn’t cooperating. You must file a dispute within 180 days of the purchase. 

      • Log in to your PayPal account, and go to the Resolution Center. 
      • Select "Report a Problem," and choose “Fraudulent transaction.” 
      • Select “Continue,” and then I Want to Report Unauthorized Activity.” Follow the prompts to open a dispute. 
      • Select "Escalate" to initiate the claim. PayPal will investigate the dispute and notify you when they have a resolution.

      Option 3: Request credit card chargebacks

      The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects consumers against credit card fraud. While the law states that you may have to pay up to $50 of the charges, most card issuers have zero liability policies [*]. You can also use chargebacks if you paid with a credit card. 

      Here’s what to do:

      • Contact your bank or financial institution. Provide details of the fraud, including dates, vendors, and amounts. Send screenshots and supporting evidence of the fraud, like your FTC report.
      • Request a chargeback. The credit card company will investigate your claim. In the meantime, PayPal will freeze the amount in the seller's account and wait for your financial institution to make a decision. 

      Note: Most credit card companies and banks require you to initiate a credit card dispute within 60 days of the transaction. After that, you may be liable for the full amount.

      💡 Related: Three-Bureau Credit Monitoring: The 5 Best Options In 2023

      How To Protect Your PayPal Account From Hackers

      • Create stronger passwords. You should avoid anything easy to guess, like pet names or common keyboard patterns. It’s best to create complex, unique passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 
      • Store login credentials in a password manager. A secure password manager stores and protects your credentials, giving you easy access to every password with a single click. Aura’s password manager includes fraud alerts and one-click updates for at-risk accounts. 
      • Use 2FA, ideally with an authenticator app. Requesting a second verification factor makes it harder for hackers to launch account takeovers. The most secure forms of 2FA are authenticator apps and hardware security keys. Avoid SMS 2FA, as cybercriminals can exploit this vulnerable method with a SIM swap scam. 
      • Regularly review your account’s contact information. Old, forgotten accounts are at risk of compromise, especially those with weak passwords. By regularly checking over your account details and transactions, you can spot and respond to early warning signs of fraud.
      • Download the PayPal app to receive alerts about suspicious activity. These potential fraud alerts are only available through the mobile app. Make sure you have the latest version on your smartphone, and enable the alerts in your profile settings.
      • Don’t store large balances in your PayPal account. Due to the limited protection and potential security risks, it’s best to avoid keeping large amounts of money in your PayPal account. If hackers get your passwords or scammers have your information after a data breach, they could quickly empty your account. 
      • Use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing PayPal outside of your home. Your home Wi-Fi system should be safe, but it's best to take precautions when using public Wi-Fi. Hotels, airports, and cafes may not have secure networks, which is risky for online shopping and banking. A reliable VPN provides a secure, encrypted connection to mask your IP address and location.
      • Secure your devices with digital security tools. Most Android devices, iOS devices, and game consoles have built-in digital security tools — for example, firewalls and antivirus software. Ensure that these programs are kept up to date to protect you against emerging cyber threats.
      • Be wary of phishing scams. A retired police officer lost almost $10,000 after receiving a bogus email from someone impersonating PayPal [*]. Avoid calling numbers or clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited communications — when you do, you’re playing into a fraudster’s hands. 

      Recovering a hacked PayPal account is only the first step — you must stay proactive with a vigilant approach to digital security.

      The Bottom Line: Secure Your Online Accounts From Hackers

      PayPal accounts are common targets for hackers and scammers, as they offer easy access to your funds and linked bank accounts. If your account has been hacked, Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution could be right for you. 

      With Aura, you get:

      • Award-winning identity theft protection that scans public records, Dark Web forums, data breaches, and more for your personal information.  
      • 24/7 three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest alerts and an instant credit lock to protect your financial accounts.
      • Powerful digital security tools, including antivirus software and a military-grade virtual private network (VPN) to let you browse confidently, even via email and online banking accounts.
      • $1,000,000 insurance policy for every adult on your Aura plan, to cover eligible losses due to identity fraud — including stolen funds or credit cards, and other expenses.
      • 24/7 U.S.-based customer support to guide you through the recovery process and navigate challenges with banks, merchants, and credit card companies.
      Don’t let hackers steal your savings. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Award-winning identity theft protection with AI-powered digital security tools, 24/7 White Glove support, and more. Try Aura for free.

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