I was lying on my bed at 2 a.m. when I received a notification from PayPal that said I had paid $399.30 to eBay. At first, I thought I was hallucinating or maybe had mistakenly received money. But, a quick check of the app confirmed: yep, in a few days PayPal was going to withdraw that money from one of my connected checking accounts.
That’s when the heart palpitations began.
Not even thinking about the time of night, I called PayPal immediately. Let me tell you; those automated operators are the worst when you’re already stressed and flustered. I rapidly pressed zero until even the machine was confused and connected me to a human being.
I explained again and again that, no, I didn’t sell anything on eBay and yes, this was a fraudulent charge. By the third transfer to a new representative and having to re-explain with each, I was in tears and hardly able to talk.
The culprit of this nightmare (that I am still dealing with): old accounts.
Hackers and thieves prey on those old accounts you no longer use. They are inactive, unmonitored and ultimately the perfect opportunity for criminals to peek inside.
In my case, I hadn’t used my eBay account in four years. It’s attached mailing address was still that of my freshman year residence hall at a school from which I transferred.
The PayPal agent read me the email on my account and it was not mine. The hacker had listed items in my name, and the debt to pay were outstanding seller’s fees.
By 3 a.m. both eBay and PayPal were unavailable, so I had to settle with resolving the issue the next morning. But I stayed up that night thinking of all of the other old accounts I have that could be vulnerable and began to change the passwords of any that I could recall.
To this very moment, I am still dealing with the not-so-great customer service of both companies to find a resolution. PayPal offered me a promotional credit so I could pay my bills, but twice since then, they have pulled the amount from my PayPal account before eBay had refunded me, leaving it in the negative. I’ve called, only for them to say that it is resolved, though it is clearly not.
My advice to you: change any passwords or just delete any old accounts that could cost you money. Think back to the companies you bought or sold books to in college, shopping websites that have your payment methods saved or any entity that supposedly protects your money.
I never thought I’d fall victim to online fraud or even a Facebook hack with my tech savvy. Now that I have, I understand that no one will be as concerned, with getting your money back, more than you.