Note: I’m going to tell you how to fix this WITHOUT uploading all those private documents. There are two ways.. keep reading.
I have been using Paypal since 2001. That all ended today.
I was doing my daily goofing off when I got an email from Paypal stating that my account had been placed in a limited state and that I needed to log into the site and provide some information in order to remove the limits. I hadn’t used my account for a couple days so this came as a bit of a surprise.
I assumed someone had tried to hack the account or something, but the password I have for paypal is one of those auto generated egregiously long passwords that would take an eternity to brute force and I have two factor authentication enabled so in order to log in you have to have my phone.
Well, I still had my phone so I really wasn’t too concerned.
I logged into the site and their notification said that my account was in a limited state due to “suspicious activity” yet no where could I see any details about what that suspicious activity was nor could anyone tell me (more on that in a bit.) And to get out of this limited state I just had to upload the following information;
- A copy of my drivers license.
- A copy of a power bill or something that had my valid address on it.
- A copy of my latest bank statement.
- My social securty number
My first thought was probably exactly what you’re thinking.. I’m being scammed.. This is some scammer site or something. Nope. Paypal.com.
It’s important to note that I’m a verified paypal member and have been since 2001. They have my bank information and I have both sent and received thousands of dollars over the years through paypal. I have never had any issues though I have heard lots of others have had these issues.
I contacted paypal via their online chat asking whats what and only ever got a canned response of how to send them all my info.
I have ZERO intent of sending those things. Read that list above again. Talk about identity theft?! No way. They already have my banking information because I had to do that in order to get the ability to send/receive money. It’s just a routing number I’m not terribly concerned there. But a copy of my DL? A copy of my bank statement? Why would they need that?
They already have my SSN. They have to have that for tax reasons. And to be honest, my SSN is all over the place. Hell it was stenciled in big bold numbers on the side of my duffel when I was in the army.
They say to verify me, but if I was the guy in 2001 that opened the account.. have the two factor authentication and can answer simple questions on line then .. I’m me!
I was upset. I figured screw it.. I’m just going to cancel my paypal account. I can do everything I do with paypal through other means.
NOPE! You can’t cancel it. You can’t remove your bank info, you can’t do anything until you upload that information.
Okay now I’m pissed. What is this “suspicious activity”?
That’s the thing that really bugged me.. I kept asking what this suspicious activity is.. They wouldn’t say. Some how my account got flagged and in this state, but not one of the 6 people I spoke to either via the web chat or on the phone all the way up to management could tell me why.
Note; Some people have said that when you hit the $10k mark of buying things it’s autoflagged. I don’t think I have hit that but maybe. I mean I’ve had it since 2001. I can’t confirm or deny this but I have had someone tell me that the manager they spoke to at paypal let that slip.
I discovered very early on that the webchat is pointless. You get one mechanical turk monkey after another that knows nothing that just spout the same canned response over and over. They know nothing, and can’t help at all.. Don’t bother using the web chat. Call.
I got on the phone with “ryan” (I question if that was his real name as he had a very thick indian accent). Ryan was just like the chat support monkeys. He couldn’t tell me anything and just kept reading off his canned response.
Ryan angered me a lot as he kept interrupting me and wouldn’t let me ask my questions. But one response that I did manage to get out of him which really pissed me off was; “There is no readily available reason for your account to be in a limited state.” and that paypal would just keep the funds if I wasn’t willing to provide the information to remove it from the limited state.
But he kept interrupting me. It got to the point where I had to tell him to stop interrupting me and let me get my questions out saying; “You have two ears and one mouth – you should be listening twice as much as talking”.
At this point, I’m thinking that Paypal is a borderline criminal organization. He wouldn’t tell me why I was in a limited state. At one point he had to go off and “research it” and when he came back he said; “uh yeah it’s in a limited state due to suspicious activity”.. WE KNEW THAT ALREADY!! What suspicious activity?
He refused to answer. Not, couldn’t answer.. he refused saying; “Not going to tell you that”.
He also confirmed that any money that’s in the account, Paypal would just keep. You read that correctly. They will KEEP any money in the account if you’re placed in a limited state and can’t / wont upload the egregious amount of documentation they say they need to fix it.
I have been an verified account holder since 2001 and used two factor authentication since the day they offered it. If someone is trying to log into my account that isn’t me, that isn’t my fault. There is no suspicious activities in their list that I can see..
I’m not willing to upload a copy of my drivers license, a copy of my latest bank statement, a copy of my social security card, a copy of my latest power bill (to prove address)… NO. What the hell. I shouldn’t have to do that.
So I tell the guy, “please cancel my account.” – “No. It’s in a limited state.” So, they wont even cancel the account.
I try to remove my bank information.. Nope.. So now they have money, they have my bank account, they have all the information already they are asking for but I’m not allowed to use the site.
Oh and did I mention that I tried to give them my SSN via their site (they already have it for tax reasons) and it doesn’t work? Their form comes back with an error “The Request for the given type has been declined due to Business Logic”. I shit you not. See the image.
I’m now in the hold queue for management and have been for over 30 minutes. Twice, they have picked up the phone and then put me back on hold without saying a thing.
At the 47 minute mark “Kelly” the manager came on the line and was very nice. However, she had no idea why my account was in a limited state.
I explained to her that I wanted to know what the suspicious activity was. I’m the verified user, my phone is on file and has been since 2001. The same phone I’m calling in with, and use as two factor authentication.. Etc.. I’M ME! And no I’m not giving you my latest bank statement.. That’s not a reasonable request. I also explained that the form that they have to submit your SSN errors and she said she’d send me to the direct link. The same form.
She put me back on hold to do research.. Again.. She wanted to research what the suspicious activity was and her computer crashed while looking it up with me on the line. I guess getting me off the line will make it not crash?
At the 59 minute mark (I had been on hold for over half this call) she can’t pull up any information as to why my account has been flagged suspicious..
She asked if I would be willing to do a “public record test” where they ask questions like; what car has been registered at your address; A) B) or C).. and if you get them all right, then they know its you. Of course, I got them all right and they removed my limited state.
I asked; “So the account is back in full swing and I have full access to do everything?” – “Yes”, Great! I said “Good. I’d like to close the account now.”
“Oh no we have to wait for it to be restored”… wait.. Didn’t you just say it was restored?!
I guess it takes time. Total call length according to my phone was 107 minutes.
Seriously this whole experience has been extremely negative.
Summary – Just to sum up;
- Paypal can lock down your account for some fictitious reason claiming “suspicious activity”
- They are not required to give you the reason / provide any proof at all (and couldn’t / wouldn’t)
- You have zero recourse other than to upload a lot of private documents that seems scammy
- Their forms for uploading those documents DON’T WORK!
- You have zero access to the money in the account (they just keep it)
- You can’t shut down / close the account (so as more money goes in, they keep that too)
- You can’t disconnect / remove the banking info (so they can charge your bank at any time)
That’s not right. Holy crap that’s borderline criminal.
Two ways to fix this without uploading all those private documents;
- Call, ask for a manager – Be prepared to wait a LONG time. But once you get on the phone ask to take the public record test to verify who you are. Refuse to upload all that crap. That’s not right.
- Stop using Paypal – I know that doesn’t really seem like a fix, but honestly what they are doing here is criminal. You get randomly placed in a limited state for no reason that they can convey and they expect you to jump through all manner of hoops in order to get access to your own money. OR THEY KEEP IT. You have no recourse. No. Just.. No.
I’m stunned at how bad of an experience this was. I will no longer be doing any kind of business with them.
I’m opt’ing for option 2 above; I’ll be closing the account as soon as I’m able. They flat out refused to tell me what the suspicious activity was but I’m starting to think it was politically motivated. I’m probably guilty of “wrong think” somewhere.