Hack 5 Restore Your Account if It Has Been Limited

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In the event that PayPal limits your account as a result of suspected fraud or other problem, you can restore it to its original, unrestricted state.

If PayPal determines that you have been engaging in fraudulent or high-risk activity (such as selling fake merchandise or using stolen credit cards) or that you have not been abiding by the terms of the user agreement (e.g., you've been using PayPal to sell pornographic material or weapons), PayPal will impose limits on your account. Your account might also be limited if you initiate a bank transfer that then fails due to insufficient funds or if you accept a payment that is later disputed by its sender.

PayPal often limits the account's access to certain features, such as sending, withdrawing, or even receiving money. This helps protect any other PayPal users with whom you've been dealing and helps reduce subsequent losses that PayPal would otherwise have to incur.

You know that PayPal has limited your account when your Account Overview page has a pink box that says Account Access Limited. As you might expect, click the "Click here for details" link for an explanation.

PayPal prides itself on being good at spotting high-risk behavior, but they also recognize that not all high-risk transactions are necessarily fraudulent or bad and not all disputes are the seller's fault. Thus, PayPal has an appeals process for those who have had their accounts limited.

1.6.1 Filing an Appeal

Needless to say, the best thing you can do if your account has been limited is to precisely follow the instructions on the web site and in the notification email you receive. Often, this entails completing a sequence of steps to provide PayPal with evidence of ownership of the PayPal account, ownership of the financials attached to the account, and verification of your own identity and address.

Only after you have completed all the required steps will a PayPal Account Review Representative review your account. For instance, if PayPal asks you to fax several documents, your account will not be reviewed until you submit all requested documents and have completed all the remaining steps.

In addition, make sure to double-check the email you received notifying you of your account's limited access, because the PayPal Account Review Representative might have added extra steps for you to complete that are not listed on the web site. For instance, if you are a seller on eBay, PayPal will likely request tracking information for items you've delivered and proof of inventory for additional items you're currently selling.

If you lose the email, you might not necessarily be able to find all the steps to complete on the PayPal web site; in this case, your best bet is to call PayPal [Hack #9]. However, if you no longer have access to your email account [Hack #4], you might have bigger fish to fry.

1.6.2 A Last Resort

If you're really in a bind and cannot complete the steps requested of you for legitimate reasons, you can always escalate your issue by writing a letter to a PayPal executive, contacting the Better Business Bureau, or working with a legal representative.

Escalation in itself is not a guarantee that your issue will be resolved, but if your issue is legitimate, it is likely that a new pair of eyes, perhaps with more experience and background, will look at your issue and help reach a fair resolution.

1.6.3 Avoiding Suspicion

To prevent your account from being limited in the first place, keep your account in order by following these guidelines:

  • Treat your PayPal account as you would your bank account: use secret passwords and keep them to yourself!

  • Make sure your true name is on your PayPal account and that it matches the name on your bank and credit card accounts. If you are a business, make sure the bank account and credit card on your account are also in your business name.

  • Use accurate addresses and phone numbers that match those on your credit card and bank account, and keep them current. False contact information can raise suspicion on your account and make it more difficult to regain access.

  • Delete old or obsolete bank accounts and credit cards from your account. If you do not keep your account up-to-date, you might find yourself in a bind when your account is limited and PayPal asks you to prove ownership of a bank account with an old address.

  • If you are a seller, always use electronically trackable shipping methods [Hack #24] so that if the shipment or receipt of a physical good is in doubt, you can easily prove your case. Also make sure to keep proof of inventory or merchandise, such as receipts, invoices, or proof of authenticity for older, collectible items. Maintain good relationships with your suppliers so that you can easily access this information when you need it.

  • If you have any old or abandoned PayPal accounts, make sure to resolve your issues with those accounts and then close them. If your account has been limited and PayPal sees linked accounts with issues, such as a negative balance or outstanding buyer complaints, PayPal will probably ask you to resolve those issues as well before they'll be willing to lift the limitation on your active account.

1.6.4 See Also

There are lots of things you can do to protect yourself and your account, both before and after you encounter a problem. See the following hacks for more details:

  • [Hack #16]

  • [Hack #24]

  • [Hack #25]

Sarah Livnet