General Question

Jeruba's avatar

How do I track down what could be a bogus PayPal charge?

Asked by Jeruba (51640points) 1 month ago

My late husband’s checking account was debited $100 today. I managed to get into his PayPal (never done that before) and saw that it said it was an automatic billing to the Washington Post.

What does the Washington Post charge $100 for?

I’m not sure this is real because when I clicked the link to manage the automatic payment, it said there wasn’t one. The debit was real, though.

Can an entity use a bogus ID such as “The Washington Post” to charge PayPal for something? I mean, could my husband have left a recurring charge in place that was using a false name? Can someone open a PayPal account and make charges calling itself “The Washington Post”?

I opened a case with PayPal to find out what this charge is and request a refund, but I also want to stop any other such payments. They may not report back for six weeks.

I’m way out of my territory here and not sure what is the next step. If I disable the link from PayPal to his bank, does that close the PayPal account? and then how would I get a refund? Do I go to the bank and stop payment, or is it already too late?

One of many posthumous surprises from my late spouse.

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23 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Annual subscription to the online edition. The Post charges me that as well. it’s worth it to me.

This could very well be legitimate.

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you, @elbanditoroso That’s a help.

Except that he’s gone and won’t be reading it. And I have my own subscription, billed to a credit card.

There was also a charge for $29 for the Washington Post on the same date. Two subscriptions, both billed today?

How would I find out if he was paying for someone else’s? How can I see who the subscriber is?

In case other things pop up, I need to know how to proceed to disable them. If I unlink his checking account, does that kill the PayPal account? For all I know, some of the security services we use are billed the same way. I’m totally unfamiliar with the use of this app. Hence my list of questions above.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Jeruba call the Post’s customer service number – they’re the ones initiating the charge.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree subscription. Call the Post and cancel if you don’t have his log in information for the Post.

Would you want to freeze his PayPal account? PayPal is extremely finicky. If you attempt to log in and screw it up a couple of times it will freeze everything. Their customer service is terrible. You will have a hard time reversing it.

You can unlink the checking account if you are able to log into his PayPal.

JLeslie's avatar

I forgot to add, when you log into PayPal you can see the activity, so you’ll see what he was paying via PayPal. Keep in mind you would have to look back a year to feel pretty sure you have seen all possible autopays, since some fees are only charged once a year.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @JLeslie. I need to know if unlinking the checking account effectively cancels PayPal. Can you have a PayPal account without linking a bank to it? I saw another recurring charge and looked up the company, but that wasn’t enough for me to figure out what it’s for and if I need to keep it.

And what happens if a charge is attempted but the bank can’t be debited? Notifications to his email are of no help to me.

There are so many layers to this stuff. I thought I was getting close to the end of unraveling the mysteries he left.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

And what happens if a charge is attempted but the bank can’t be debited?

Like a credit card that is at its limit. The charge is rejected.,

I need to know if unlinking the checking account effectively cancels PayPal.

Yes. And I would go further and close the PayPal account.

jca2's avatar

First, contact Washington Post. Cancel the subscription. Second, contact Pay Pal and close the account.

JLeslie's avatar

Does @Jeruba want to close the PayPal account? I was assuming she doesn’t want to. I thought she wants to remove the checking account and keep the PayPal account.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: If things are going to be charged that she’s unaware of and does not want, and doesn’t have access to because it’s not originally her account, I’d think closing it would be easiest. If she wants a Pay Pal account, opening a brand new one and having full access to it would be easiest. Just my opinion and of course I could be totally wrong. Maybe she wants a Pay Pal account she has no access to and has no idea what will be charged next.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Agreed. I assumed she can get into the account, because she mentioned disabling or deleting the checking account from the PayPal.

bob_'s avatar

In case you want to delete the PayPal account, see here.

elbanditoroso's avatar

One reason NOT to disassociate the PayPal YET – if a source is trying to debit PayPal and it is unable to, (depending on what it is) – it could end up charging you a late fee or a penalty fee for an unsuccessful transaction.

You’re better off pulling the list of PayPal debits (there is a list on PayPal) and closing them at the source, one at a time.

All I’m saying is that there is some risk at just closing everything without investigating.

janbb's avatar

(I tried to get into my PayPal account last night to verify if they list recurring charges for you and it locked me out after I tried the username and password I have on file. No helpful suggestions so that is another problem with them.)

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Exactly what I meant about PayPal being very stringent and freezing accounts. When it happened to me I could not fix it online. I don’t remember exactly how it went. I tried to call, and they would not talk to me, it had to be my boss who is actually the owner of the account, and even for her she had to go through hoops, long conversation with PayPal, to get it fixed. I am extremely careful when I type in the password for PayPal.

janbb's avatar

I was able to reset my password today and get in.

@Jeruba If you are able to get in to the account, you should be able to see what charges are pending or recurring. Also, what credit card it is tied to. Or if you can get into his credit card records, maybe you can check what comes up as a paypal charge.

si3tech's avatar

@Jeruba Hello, there must be a “contact” number for the Washington Post,
that you can use to verify/cancel this charge. When I receive an email
purported to be from PayPal IF it is Suspicious to me like I got 3 days ago I never click on anything in the email. I forward it to: soof@paypal. You’ll get a reply immediately from them with a ‘case’ number and they look into it. My most recent one said a recent login of mine was from a ‘device they didn’t ‘recognize’. Good luck.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb That’s good.

elbanditoroso's avatar

1–800-477–4679 is the WP Customer Care phone number

si3tech's avatar

@Jeruba If this is a charge you see on your credit card then
call credit card number and they can tell from WHERE the charge
originated. They will put the charge in dispute if not (you or your husband’s) transaction.

SnipSnip's avatar

If you had used a credit card you could reverse the charge. Pretty easy. I had an ebay purchase of $500 once that was fraud and called the bank that issued my card and had charges reversed even though I paid using Paypal. Ebay/Paypal also did an investigation and was able to get the money back from the seller so it all worked out for all parties. But you are safer using credit cards online. Also, try to have a paper trail as you investigate. Disputes are best to be reported in writing.
Good luck.

flutherother's avatar

I would phone the Washington Post. They quote this number for help cancelling subscriptions. 202–334-6100. PayPal is one of their payment partners.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m grateful for all help and advice. Thank you. I will be calling them tomorrow morning.

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