Introduction: Hacks #10-16

So, you've just bought a genuine Zapp Brannigan Atomic Ray Gun on eBay, and now it's time to pony up the dough. You might be able to mail a personal check, but most sellers won't take them (and when they do, there's an extra week to wait for them to clear). Money orders and cashier's checks usually cost money and take several days to arrive, and then there's still no protection if the seller takes the ray gun and runs. Some sellers accept credit cards directly, but few provide online ordering or other safe means of sending your payment information.

This is where many buyers are introduced to PayPal. With a few clicks and usually no typing, you can send large or small sums of money across the country or around the world almost instantaneously and get fraud protection while doing it.

The first thing to remember when making a payment with PayPal is to be certain you've got it right. Review the details of the payment you're about to make on the Check Payment Details page, because once you hit the Pay button, there is no going back. You won't be able to rescind the payment, change the recipient in the case of a typo, or change the way the payment is funded [Hack #11] .

Keep a close eye on the source of funds [Hack #11]; if you don't have enough money in your checking account and would prefer to use your credit card instead, you'll need to make that selection before you pay. Even if you r recipient were to refund the payment immediately [Hack #21], the funds would still be pulled from your bank account or charged on your credit card.

Now, none of this means that PayPal doesn't have policies in place to protect you. If the recipient doesn't claim a pending payment within 30 days, for example, you'll get it back automatically. And you'll be able to dispute payments made for merchandise [Hack #16] in the event of fraud. But the person in the best position to protect your money is you, so use that position wisely.