PayPal glitch threatens to cancel echeque payments

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PayPal echeques are a pain point at the best of times. Buyers often think they’ve paid and don’t understand why sellers don’t ship immediately. Sellers are frustrated at having to wait up to 10 days for the funds to clear and when an echeque doesn’t clear it’s often days until it fails and they have to request the buyer to repay by an alternative method.

Now the latest glitch from PayPal is an email informing sellers that their echeque payment will be canceled if they don’t “claim the funds”.

Dear Chris Dawson,
Claim your funds
You received 4.99 GBP from [email protected] on 23 Oct. 2008. If you do not claim your funds by 21 Nov. 2008, this transaction will be cancelled and the money will be returned to [email protected]’s account.
Log in to your PayPal account to view the details of this transaction.
You are being asked to manually claim this money because:
You are one of our high-volume customers. We ask PayPal users who receive more than $10,000.00 USD per month to complete our Supplemental Merchant Information form.
To fill out the form, click the link below:
The information you provide helps us protect the integrity of our network. Payments sent to your PayPal account will be held as ‘Pending’ until you complete this form.
If you have questions about this transaction, log in to your PayPal account and click on History found towards the top of the page. Click on the details of the transaction in question for more information, or to accept or refuse this payment.
Yours sincerely,

The echeque detailed is due to clear on the 31st October, in the mean time there is nothing that can be done to “claim” the payment or to get the echeque cleared quicker.

The email, although addressed by name, resembles spam and has the one thing that PayPal advise they never to do – it contains a clickable link requesting users to log into their account to update their information. Quite frankly all the time PayPal send emails with links in it’s no wonder that unsuspecting users fall for phishing emails. Using US dollars in emails to UK customers makes the email look even more suspicious.

Reporting the email to PayPal elicited the response “That is a spoof email. We would never ask you to fill out your business information on a link. We would ask you to log on to your account and follow steps to complete”. Sadly the emails aren’t spoofs – they’re addressed to the correct name containing details of a genuine transaction and the link is to a genuine PayPal page, they’re just a PayPal glitch.

PayPal have a new website intended as a fun interactive way to learn about online safety with a test. The correct answer to how phishers prey on victims is “Describing threats to your account and stating you must authenticate your information immediately followed by a link”.

In order for the advice to be taken seriously PayPal themselves should never send emails requesting users to click links and update their information.

17 Responses

  1. Talk about left hand doesn’t know what right hand is doing … I got one and queried it with service@paypal and got the following reply:

    Dear xxxxxx please be informed that we don’t send that kind of email on our
    customers. We only send confirmation regarding with your transaction or
    with your account. I would like to suggest that you send this email to
    [email protected] so that we can start the investigation regarding this

    Aaargh – they really make life easier don’t they?

    P.S. I had copied it to spoof@paypal too so they can’t even check the CC field before sending dumb replies to further confuse us.

  2. Hi all,

    I apologise for this mess. My first impulse was also to think this was spoof, since we wouldn’t dream of wording a communication like this now; however, having asked around, it is indeed real.

    Aside from how terrible and oblique this email is, what’s very apparent is that we need to ensure the team who responds to your spoof queries is informed about what is spoof and what isn’t. We’ve been less than helpful on this one and need to get better. My apologies for all the confusion: we’ll definitely work on improving this.


  3. Elton, don’t you think it would have been more useful to post what you’ve said on the eBay Community Boards?

    Rather than here?

    Why haven’t you posted that on the eBay Community Boards where people are reporting they are having this problem?

    Don’t you think that would have been useful?

  4. thank you for this post (I missed it before somehow) I have received this glitch email twice and sent it to paypal spoof twice and have received no reply (yet) so was beginning to doubt myself!

    I am glad this posting confirms my thoughts that it is another glitch!

  5. spoof@paypal will tell you that ALL emails sent to them are spoofs.

    And of course in this case that’s causing even more confusion because the emails are addressed to the REAL names of the account holders.

    So people are wondering how the heck the spoofers have their real names.

  6. This is getting so annoying these messages are constant. Neither spoof nor service at paypal know anything about them – logging in and checking that the info that they want completed is completed doesn’t work – as far I can see the messages actually do nothing!

  7. I just called to report this same issue. As of an hour ago they still have not found a resolution or know whats causing this. They will be crediting the money manually to my account.

  8. Got a decent reply from Paypal to the first one of these mails I had yesterday:

    Thank you for contacting PayPal in relation to the email you received in
    relation to the eCheque payment.

    I have reviewed your account and I can confirm that the email you received
    was sent in error, this is a technical issue that our engineers are working
    on resolving. The eCheque will clear into your account in the normal
    clearing time, 7-9 business days. (Mrs X) you will not need to take any
    further action with this payment. Once the payment has cleared processing
    it will show as completed in your account. I regret any confusion caused by
    the incorrect email you received.

    Please let me know if you need further assistance.

    Business Support Department

  9. I was feeling left out
    not any more ,we too got one of these massively annoying emails
    it makes a mockery of security
    procedures ,
    when a major online payment processer
    sends this type of email

  10. I got one today and demanded that Paypal explain HOW this is happening. They are requiring us to only use Paypal because it is more secure than checks or money orders. Never got a fake money order or check in the last 10 years but I get fake Paypal E mails almost on a daily basis. This is the usual garbage you get now days. They blame the computer. All I can say is: Garbage in, Garbage out.

  11. Just received this from PayPal regarding the payment glitch.

    Dear Stewart,

    We recently experienced a system issue which delayed a transaction(s) from posting to your PayPal account balance. You may have noticed the affected transaction(s) showing in an Unclaimed status.

    Please note that we have resolved this issue and the affected transaction(s) have posted to your PayPal account balance.

    We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and thank you for your patience regarding this matter.

    Thank you,


    Hopefully it is fixed.

  12. Have got yet another of these emails today… just how long does it take them to fix a glitch like this and stop sending spammy looking emails? 🙁

  13. I have had the same email this morning with regards to an echeque which is due to clear next week.

    The issue has clearly not been resolved.

    Does anyone know how the payment appears in the buyers account ?


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