This issue is about identity theft that PayPal says I do not need to worry about. Despite this, it still keeps sending me letters saying I owe it money. The latest demand arrived four days ago. 

This is causing me a great deal of worry as I am concerned that it will affect my credit rating, or that PayPal might take further steps to retrieve this money I do not owe. 

I would like to send a formal written complaint to PayPal, but cannot do so as I don’t have an account with it. 

Months have passed and it seems I am destined to keep receiving these letters forever. Each one brings the threat of further action, which is very worrying.

HP, Surrey

You received a letter from a well-known retailer requesting clarification about a recent order allegedly made by you.  You hadn’t ordered anything and initially did not respond as you thought it was spam. In fact, the retailer was correctly suspicious and trying to help. 

When you did ring the retailer it said the order was for £499.99. The payment had been made by PayPal from an account in your name, even though you don’t have any account with PayPal. 

You called PayPal and reported that there had been a fraud. The next you heard from PayPal was a request for payment of £527.11. You phoned again and said the account should be shut down. 

You found out that the email address used is not yours. Some personal details were correct, though. PayPal confirmed that this was a case of identity theft. The account was then limited and nearly all the money was returned by the retailer.

You were told an investigation would be launched. The account was to be marked as fraudulent. Nevertheless, you then received a letter demanding £27.12. You called PayPal, which said you shouldn’t do anything. 

This smaller payment, which will have been courier costs, kept on being requested month after month. You then wrote to me. A PayPal spokesman said: “We unreservedly apologise to Ms P for the delays in resolving her case. Ms P had contacted us to report a fraudulent account that had been opened using her details. The account was immediately limited. 

“However, due to a technical error, Ms P continued to receive communications from PayPal about this account. We have since changed our procedures so that this doesn’t happen again. 

“We can also confirm that Ms P’s credit record would not have been negatively affected by this incident.”

In view of my concerns about your difficulties contacting PayPal it said it is now adding an extra “Frequently Asked Question” online, asking: “How do I report a problem if I am not a registered PayPal customer?”

This should be accessible via the help and contact page on paypal.co.uk. 

To glean information about potential identity theft victims, fraudsters may trawl through social networking sites, rummage through dustbins and recycling boxes and garner personal data through computer hacking and malicious computer programs.

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