Hack 4 Pay When You've Forgotten Your Password

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Use an extra credit card to pay when you can't get into your account and don't have time to recover a forgotten password

If you find you have forgotten your password, PayPal can help. But if you need to make a payment now and don't have time to recover your password (a process that can take from a minute to over a week, depending on how much you know about your own account and how current that information is), there is a shortcut: use a credit card that is not already attached to a PayPal account to make your purchase.

You can't use a credit card already attached to an existing PayPal account; the system won't allow it. If you have only one credit card, you're out of luck and will need to recover your password before you can make another payment.

Note that if your debit card doubles as a credit card, you can use it with PayPal, either for a one-time purchase or, more permanently, by attaching it to your PayPal account.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Clear the cookies in your web browser.

  2. Click the appropriate button to make the payment, such as a Buy Now button on a seller's web site or an eBay checkout flow.

  3. Choose the option for paying with a credit card if you do not have a PayPal account ("If you don't have a PayPal account and want to pay with a credit card...").

  4. You will be prompted to complete your payment.

Now that you have made your purchase, don't forget to recover your password! You have several choices at this point, depending on how much you know about your account and how current your account information is:

Security Questions and Answers

A forgotten password is a prime example of how PayPal uses the security questions you set up when you opened your PayPal account to protect you. Personal information (stuff that only you would know), such as your city of birth, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number, is used by PayPal to make sure you are who you say you are.

Make sure your security questions (and corresponding answers) are current and sufficiently private. To review your security questions or change your answers, open PayPal's Profile Summary page (My AccountProfile) and click Password. Choose the security questions from the list and click Edit.

Password reset by email

If one of your current email addresses is registered with your PayPal account, start the process by clicking the "Forget your password?" link in the Member Log In box on the PayPal home page. Type in your email address (one to which you currently have access), click Submit, and follow the further instructions in the email message you'll receive shortly. Click the link in the email to go to a page where you can answer questions about the bank and credit card accounts listed on your account or your personalized security questions (see the "Security Questions and Answers" sidebar). Once your identity has been verified, you'll be given the opportunity to choose a new password.

If you don't receive the email message, you might have an overly aggressive spam filter. Make sure to check your incoming spam folder or temporarily disable your spam filter (or your ISP's filter) and try again if you suspect that PayPal's confirmation email was deleted.

Telephone password recovery process

If you no longer use any of the email addresses registered with your PayPal account, but you do know the answer to your security questions and still use a telephone number registered with your account, you can use the telephone password recovery process:

  1. First, click the "Forget your password?" link and enter your old email address as though you were still using it.

  2. Next, click "I no longer have access to this email address." The system then verifies your identity by asking you to fill in some personal information. Provide this information and then click Submit.

  3. On the Password Recovery by Phone page, select the telephone number where you would like to be called and provide a current email address. Click Continue. A PayPal Confirmation PIN will be shown.

  4. Next, PayPal places an automated telephone call to the phone number associated with your account. Assuming you're able to answer, you'll be asked to enter the PIN provided by PayPal into the telephone keypad, followed by the pound key (#).

  5. Once you have done so, hang up and click Continue. You will be prompted to enter (and reenter) a new password and select and answer two security questions. Remember this password. Use it with the email address you just added to log in to your PayPal account.

If all else fails

If neither of these solutions works, you can recover your password by postal mail and other means. At this point, it's best to contact PayPal directly and have customer service help you recover your password.

Obviously, it's best to keep all your information (email addresses, postal addresses, and phone numbers) current, so that if you ever need to recover an inaccessible account, you can do so in minutes rather than days.