Howard Rokofsky has a PayPal problem — specifically, a $303 charge he never made. The online payment service denies his dispute within hours. Did it act too fast?
Q: I recently received an email from PayPal that said I’d sent a $303 payment. I had not.
I opened a dispute on PayPal, reporting an unauthorized transaction. Exactly four hours later, I received the message that my claim was denied, that they did not discover any unauthorized transaction.
This seems a very fast response, considering they said it would take up to 10 days to investigate. I phoned PayPal and a representative told me that my case was closed, but they would escalate it, and, if I wish, I could take the matter up with the local police.
Within 30 minutes, I received an email that PayPal had again denied my claim, and they added that “Based on our review, we found this transaction is consistent with your PayPal payment history.”
I use PayPal sparingly, never above $100, and only from my home computer. So the transaction in question was certainly not consistent with my history.
It seems to me that all this has gone too fast. I do not believe PayPal really investigated my claim. If it had, then it would have found the payment was not made from my computer, and, most likely, not from within my country. I would like PayPal to refund my $303. Can you help me? — Howard Rokofsky, Prague
A: Wow, that was fast. PayPal gives itself 10 to 14 days to investigate a claim like this. Your case resolved in hours — and on Christmas Day. That seems a little suspicious.
Of course, you should not be liable for a transaction you never made. PayPal should have carefully investigated your claim, and if the facts are as you say, refunded the $303.
A review of your paper trail between you and PayPal raised a few red flags. I’ve seen this before. The payment went to a person to whom you had never sent money. PayPal’s rejections were quick and almost automatic, listing no specific reason for the rejection. It feels like a computer generated the email and that PayPal didn’t bother to get a person involved in your case.
How to fix a PayPal problem
You could have appealed your case to someone higher up at PayPal. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the executives at PayPal on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site. Hopefully, that would have generated a response from a real person and fixed your PayPal problem.
PayPal claims it thoroughly reviewed your claim for unauthorized account use. It conducted “an in-depth review” of many factors and transaction details. “We also work to collect the necessary information and to confirm whether unauthorized activity took place,” it told you. “From reviewing your account, we have found that the activity on your account does not stand out as unusual or suspicious and no evidence was found that a third party had accessed your account to complete the transaction.”
You filed a local police report. Separately, I contacted PayPal on your behalf. A week later, PayPal refunded your $303 without offering an explanation.