To claim or not to claim? To report or to ignore?
June 5, 2012 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Small euro amount sent to my PayPal account by company with whom I have had no dealings. Test? Phishing? Scam?

A few weeks ago, PayPal sent me an email telling me a specified, very small amount of money had been transferred to my account and I have x number of days to "claim" it. I did not click on any links, logged into my PP account, and checked. The email was legit, and the money is indeed there to be "claimed". So, no real need to contact PayPal.

However, I do not recognize the sender. It is a postal company in Great Britain. The amount is very like what an eBay or Etsy seller might refund in case of overcharging for shipping, but I have not ordered anything from anybody in the UK for the last, oh, year or so. Still possible, I suppose, but then I would expect the name of the *seller* as sender, not a parcel company.

PayPal now tells me I have 5 days before the money is returned to sender. My instincts tell me to allow this to happen because this might just be a new kind of phishing, or a scam of some kind (I *should* claim, otherwise, scammer knows the account is not highly used and will do Something Nefarious, though I don't really see how), or perhaps this company is attempting to verify I have an active PP account before slapping me with some huge late customs fee I am unaware they fronted or somesuch. Of course, the terms "plate of beans" and "slightly paranoid" have sprung to mind.

tl;dr: Anybody heard of similar scams/tests/phishing? Should I take any action?
posted by likeso to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
You might have forgotten about the transfer and can't remember because the company's trading name is different from the name you deal with. Did you call the company?
posted by devnull at 7:05 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: No, I didn't - it's a postal company called i-Parcel. I have not purchased any service from any British postal company, ever. :)
posted by likeso at 7:17 AM on June 5, 2012

I assume you have a credit card or bank account directly linked to your PayPal account? A small, negligible transaction is a common method for testing a direct-withdrawal setup. I'd absolutely block i-Parcel from accessing your account, if possible.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2012

I don't quite follow... what do you mean, "Claim"? When someone sends me money via paypal, it's in my account. I don't have to claim it or confirm it or do anything else. It's just there until I use it or withdraw it.

The only exception I know of to this is when someone sends money to an email address that doesn't have a Paypal account, at which PP will send an email to that address telling them to open an account to claim the money.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2012

Any chance it was just a weird error? I once went half crazy trying to get to the bottom of somebody else's email getting assigned to my credit card updates (long story short, it looked fishy but was clear in the end that it was an honest mis-entry on the CC company's side. I thought it was an ID theft attempt, the person who was getting my CC alerts for a brief time probably thought it was phishing, as they were getting invitations to sign in for an account that they didn't actually own).

In any event, I can't see the downside of ignoring it, it will probably just go away. If it happens again contact the company and tell them I don't know why you're putting little bits of money into my Paypal but I've got no business with you so check your records and quit it.
posted by nanojath at 7:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

What Thorzdad said — that small value deposited in your PayPal account is like a confirmation link emailed to you when you sign-up for a service. Somewhere out there, someone is expecting "you" to tell them the exact value of the deposit, as proof of your identity.
posted by mumkin at 8:05 AM on June 5, 2012

If you accept the payment, this is seen as both a confirmation that this is a live account, and acts as an authorization for i-Parcel to make automatic debits.

Reject the payment and block i-Parcel immediately.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

*and* contact PayPal and let them know.
posted by Doohickie at 9:50 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hello - we are a logistics company and we work with internet retailers who are selling and shipping goods from the US around the world. We also help some of the internet retailers in the payment processing. It is possible that purchased from one of the retailers that we work with and this was a refund of an overcharge or miscalculation. If you'd like to email me privately I can help you to determine the reason for your refund. Please rest assured we are not a scam and if you received money from us there was a good reason for it.
posted by iparcel at 11:18 PM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: Weeell, it seems that this was indeed not an attempt to scam me.

Ordered something from Company X in February, apparently Company X subcontracted to Company Y, and Company Y then subcontracted delivery to i-Parcel.

i-Parcel sent notice to "claim" refund via PP in May, but did not include any details of or reference to the transaction involved. Neither did reminders. And I had never had to deal with "claiming" funds (seems it happens when CC not bank account is attached to PP, You Should See The Other Guy). So, confusion and suspicion and paranoia...

Thanks guys, for brainstorming with me - and um, welcome to MetaFilter, iparcel?
posted by likeso at 5:57 AM on June 6, 2012

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