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I've used my PayPal account for many years, almost exclusively for making the occasional eBay purchase once every several months. Today I received an email saying that PayPal was limiting my account (it was later, when I logged into my account, that I realized "limited" is a euphemism for "permanently banned"). The email said the limitation was because of a violation of the user agreement, though it did not say what the violation was, and interestingly it told me to remove anything PayPal-associated from my "site(s) and auction(s)." The email said nothing explicit about me using PayPal to accept payment, but the overall tone of the email, and the reference to my "sites and auctions," seemed to imply that PayPal believed I was using my account as a merchant account to sell things and accept payment on online vendors like eBay. This is bizarre as I've never sold anything on eBay or used my PayPal account to sell anything at all, only buying occasional video games and sports memorabilia on eBay.
I tried to use the "Chat Now" feature on the site, only to find that it connects you to a virtual/AI assistant. This assistant told me nothing new, that my account was permanently "limited" though it did say that PayPal was "unable to continue offering our services to you at this time due to the nature of your business and the risk it poses to PayPal." It's at this point that I was completely gobsmacked - like I said, I don't have a business! Looking over my transactions, the only "business" I conducted was stuff like buying a video game and 2 pieces of NHL memorabilia on eBay, and sending a small (<100) amount of money to a family member to help them financially. I'm not a merchant or businessman of any kind, so you can imagine my surprise at that message!
So I sent an email. I received an immediate automated response that, once again, simply reiterated what I already knew: "due to the violation of PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy, your account will remain permanently limited." It didn't provide any hint of what the violation could be. At this point I'm certain it had to be a mistake, or someone was hacking my account for nefarious purposes - I was completely grasping at straws.
And this is when it gets REALLY weird.
Determined to talk to an actual human after going 0 for 2 on customer support methods, I made a phone call and was told that I would be on hold for 36 minutes to an hour (!) and that they would call me back at that time. I confirmed the callback and received an automated call right on schedule, and it connected me to a human (at long last!) She told me that my account was permanently limited for a violation of the agreement, I told her I knew that, lol. She said that there was no chance of reactivating the account and that PayPal has "decided to part ways with you." Imagine my surprise! But the best was yet to come.
I explained that I was desperately just trying to find out why I was limited and what the alleged "violation" was. It was at this moment she said one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard in my life. She said PayPal could not disclose that information, and that if I wanted to know why I was "permanently limited" that my only option would be to file a subpoena under the Freedom of Information Act. My jaw dropped. Talk about needing an act of Congress to get something simple done - she had just told me if I wanted to know why PayPal was banning me, it would require a LITERAL act of Congress!!
By now I've managed to pick my jaw up off the floor, but I still have no theory as to why they would suddenly "permanently limit" the account of a user in good standing who had used their service for many, many years.
So my questions are, is this sort of thing common? Does anyone have similar experiences, and is there any recourse I have? Fortunately I didn't have any funds in my account, so even just finding out why I was limited would be enough for me. Does anyone have any guesses as to what could've happened? I'm still stunned, legitimately gobsmacked.
This has to be a false positive by their system to permanently limit your account. You just buy the occasional thing from eBay for Pete's sake. I urge you to go to bbb.org and file a complaint at PayPal San Jose, CA to their office of executive escalation to clear your name because you cannot open another PayPal account. It will be linked to this limited one and will be banned as well. Calling customer service and getting a rep that knows what they are doing is by chance and is time consuming.
Discuss in a calm, but concerned, factual letter about what happened to your account, that you think you've been banned unjustifiably and that you would like the office of exec. escalations to review your account.
Thanks so much for your reply!!
I'm tempted to follow your advice and file a complaint with the BBB, just for the sake of finding out what on Earth could possibly be the reason PayPal decided to "part ways" with me. Who ever heard of a service banning a long-time user in good standing? But moreover, who ever heard of a service not telling banned users why they were banned?! What incentive is there to keep it a secret? Their customer service rep accuses me over the phone of violating the user agreement, thereby impugning my character, but she refuses to say what clause in the agreement I'm supposed to have violated? Talk about fishy. It's honestly the most surreal & frustrating experience I've ever had with any business or service.
But enough of my venting! To the point at hand, as tempted as I am to file a BBB complaint and hopefully find out what the heck is going on, I'm just not sure it's worth the major investment of time and energy. In this day and age I'm not sure an average, small-time user like myself necessarily needs PayPal for anything. On eBay, for example, I can just pay with my card directly. So part of me wonders if it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie (though I'll be warning EVERYONE I know not to leave money just sitting in their PayPal account! Thank goodness I didn't have anything deposited.) That said, I'm still extremely confused and a little bit off-put by having my character impugned, not to mention frustrated with the support rep's apathy for my situation and arbitrary refusal to tell me anything. So the option of filing a BBB complaint is one I will VERY much be considering over the next couple of days, sharpiemarker, and you have my immense gratitude for replying and recommending it. Thank you so much.
In the meantime, you raised the possibility of a false positive - I wonder if you could elaborate on this? My only theory is that it must be some mistake along those lines, but a false positive for what, exactly? I don't know what their automated systems scan accounts for, and I can't even imagine that they'd be scanning my small-time account for anything suspicious.
Either way, thanks so much again for your reply and, most of all, your empathy! After wriggling my way through their customer service system, dealing with "Chat Now" options that just connect me to a chat bot, having emails I spent considerable time writing auto-replied to with form letters that just repeat the original email, and then finally getting a human to talk to just to have her show no interest in helping me, a phone call which produced nothing other than an accusation against my character (don't get me wrong, she met the baseline for civility for a customer service rep, but she certainly didn't go above and beyond) - well, after all that, I appreciate your *empathy* more than anything else! It's unfortunate for PayPal that volunteer support posters are so much more helpful and empathetic than their paid support reps (when you can get in contact with the paid ones, that is!) It really means a lot to me.
And if anyone else has any theories or has had similar experiences, or even just heard of similar experiences, I'd be very grateful to them as well! While I'm debating whether or not to file a BBB complaint it would be great to have as much info as possible.
Wanted to give this one last bump before deciding whether or not to pursue this or just resign myself to it, and to take another stab at seeing if anyone has similar stories themselves or has heard of it happening randomly in error. I'm still utterly puzzled by this and I recently received an email alerting me of the policy update, which I don't know why I received given that my account has been limited for reasons that apparently require the federal government's intervention if I want to find out! It's my understanding also that PayPal employees peruse the forum from time to time, any input I could get from one of them would be greatly appreciated, but thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to share their thoughts!
My main concern is that they are refusing to remove my bank account information after the 180 day holding period. and they are also refusing to close my account. It's my account who are they to refuse to close it.
I wish paypal can let anyone whose account is limited write a plan of action to avoid future occurrence. This is the beauty of some of the best merchant accounts today. In the POA, they will state what they did wrong and how to make amends. If the user does not state what they did wrong, the account will remain closed. People are getting scared of relying on paypal this days because of the fears of sudden account closure .
If the issue is fraud, no second chance but if it is other issue , they should give second chance. In this era of COVID19. People are suffering and they want to start something and paypal alone can lift millions out of abject poverty. If it will involve fees or third party review, pls paypal, help anyone whose mistake is not fraud .
There is a reason paypal is here today. It is not for profit only. Paypal is bigger than Facebook in our lives. Paypal has lifted many out of abject poverty. You can lift more. Pls help those who are willing to confess their sins and write plan of actions.
The same thing has happened to me. I have used PayPal for almost 20 years and all of a sudden my account gets limited; when I try to remove the limitation I get the message "You can't use PayPal anymore." I have ZERO transactions on my account. The only thing I do is buy stuff from eBay or the occasional Steam game when they go on sale. It's pretty bogus that they can just arbitrarily close you off for no reason. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and got a generic reply "we don't discuss our investigation methods, but we found fraud in your account." What fraud, there's no transactions in my account, I have $0 balance. Attempts to reach out to PayPal have been futile due to Covid19 and any messages sent just gives me nothing but circular responses.
We need a class action lawsuit. They shouldn't be arbitrarily shutting down accounts without cause.