Helping you avoid fraudulent orders.

We work hard to help prevent fraud, but every online transaction still carries some risk. That’s why we recommend that all merchants take a proactive approach to risk management.

Look out for the following potential warning signs.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. While none of these warning signs necessarily mean an order is fraudulent, it is important to look out for the following:

The shipping address is a high-risk location.

These are places well-known for fraud. Search online to find a list of high-risk countries.

Verify the customer’s order information before you ship.

The amount of time you spend on fraud prevention will depend on what you are selling, who your customers are, and the amount of risk you're willing to take. If you sell expensive, in-demand products, your fraud prevention and detection processes are even more critical.

Shipping address
Verify the customer’s shipping address
Fraudsters often ship orders to addresses that can't be traced back to them. Look for red flags such as shipping to a freight forwarder, shipping company, P.O. box, hotel, or a vacant property. Go online and search for the shipping address.
Here are a few things to look for:
  • Freight forwarders
    Third-party shipping services reship merchandise to another location (typically abroad) for a fee. To see where your package is being sent, simply enter the shipping address into a search engine. If the search results show the name of shipping company, be cautious.
  • Shipping companies or P.O. boxes
    Fraudsters like the anonymity that shipping companies and P.O. boxes provide. However, there are also a lot of legitimate reasons for using a shipping company or a P.O. box. You just need to be more cautious, since shipping to P.O. boxes and shipping companies can be more risky than shipping to residential addresses.
  • Money mules
    Fraudsters sometimes pay people to receive orders at their address. The money mule receives the package then reships it to the fraudster’s address. Be careful if several orders from different customers list the same shipping address.
  • Vacant properties
    To identify vacant properties, enter the shipping address into a search engine. If the property is currently listed as for rent or for sale, it could be vacant.
Phone number
Verify the phone number
Use a reverse phone look-up or third party data supplier to verify the customer’s name and address. You can also call the customer’s phone number. Don’t rely on caller ID, since customers can use spoofing services to disguise their real phone number. Reverse phone books are also available online.
High-risk orders
Delay shipping high-risk orders
Account holders often notice fraudulent transactions and report the problem pretty quickly. If possible, delay shipment for 24-48 hours for customers who place unusually large orders or buy items that are expensive and in demand – especially international orders. Don’t ship overnight unless you're confident that the order is legitimate, or you feel comfortable taking the risk.
Contact the customer
Contact the customer to confirm the order information
If an order seems suspicious, contact the customer by phone or email. Ask a few questions to see if everything checks out. If the phone number is disconnected or the email bounces back, proceed with caution.


You're responsible for fraud losses that aren't covered by PayPal Seller Protection. Opportunistic fraudsters take advantage of businesses that aren’t aware of fraud risks. Nobody knows your business as well as you. You know your biggest customers and are familiar with their buying patterns. No payment processor will ever know these things as well as you, so your involvement in risk management is essential.

Download our guide


Take a look at our other guides to help you manage your business.

Avoiding disputes, claims and chargebacks

Resolving disputes, claims and chargebacks