When I woke up Thursday morning, my husband tried to remain calm as he asked me, “Sweetie, you didn’t by any chance by something online for $1,172.98 recently, did you?” I looked at him like he had just asked me if I had seen a pink elephant. I rarely purchase anything online, and when I do, it is usually less than $100. “What are you talking about?!” I asked.
“Someone did a PayPal echeck from our account in the amount of $1172.98. There were some other PayPal purchases too.”
I ran to the computer to see for myself, and as he showed me the activity on our checking account, I nearly died. As I signed on to my PayPal account, it was blatantly obvious that something was terribly wrong. The balances were now all in Euros. The transaction history showed several transactions, all from the day before, that I had not made. Worst of all, they had all already cleared. How did this happen I wonder?
Of course I got on the phone with PayPal right away. The woman on the phone helped me to report the unauthorized transactions and change all of my security information. She informed me that the dispute should be resolved and all money returned to my account within 10 business days. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, 10 business days is a long time to be without $1200!
While I was assured by PayPal that I am absolutely protected against all unauthorized charges, this does not change the fact that my checking account was drained of money I needed to pay bills. It also does not change how horribly violated I feel. One would never think that something as simple as an internet password being revealed could lead to such a terrible feeling, but honestly it is painful. It is… emotional.
It’s like… you work hard, put in long hours, and deal with mental exhaustion and being away from your kids, and for that you get a much deserved paycheck. To think that someone who did not earn that money could, in a simple few clicks, take it all away, is just sickening.
Fortunately, PayPal returned the money within 3 days. By Saturday, the charges had been reversed back into my PayPal account. Now the only frustration is the fact that PayPal has a $500 per month limit on withdrawls. So now, the money is in my PayPal account (a place that no longer feels safe to me), but I was only able to transfer $500 of it out. So I am waiting until next month to transfer another $500… and then the next month for the rest of it. Strange that criminals were allowed to make a transfer OUT of my account for over $1000, but I can’t make that same transfer INTO my account.
Like many Associated Content writers, I use my account mainly for receiving payment for articles. When a decent amount builds up in my PayPal account, I transfer it to my bank account. This is the only reason that PayPal even has my bank account. When I buy stuff online, I usually use a credit card. The worst part is that it is not even necessary to give PayPal your checking account information. Although sending the money directly into a bank account is the fastest way to get money, PayPal is more than happy to mail you a check. From now on… I’m ordering checks.