How Can I Tell If This Email Is Real?

I recently got an email that raised some red flags with me.  It said that the sender was PayPal and the subject line was “Here’s a refund for shipping costs.”


I do have a PayPal account, but I’ve only used it for digital purchases. This made me really suspicious. We all know that one of the most popular ways that scammers trick people into clicking on malware that does things like lock their PC is to send links or documents that appear to be bank statements, shipping notices, or other things that we sometimes click on without even thinking about it.

Sometimes these are phishing scams designed to get you to give out your account information so crooks can steal from you. A lot of the times the fraud is obvious. It’s a statement for Chase bank and that’s not your bank. But what if there’s a possibility that it could be real? You don’t want to miss an important notice.

I certainly didn’t want to click on this email to find out.  When I scrolled down a little, I could see that it purported to come from an address where I do sometimes receive legitimate emails from Paypal. But we all know that these can be faked.


The preview of the email showed that instead of regarding a particular account or transaction, it was an offer to sign up for a PayPal program that could guarantee your return shipping costs on an item. It certainly seemed legitimate. Had PayPal just happened to choose a very scammy sounding subject line for their email?  I decided the safest route was to got to and check to see if they were offering a return shipping deal.

I found out that the offer was a real one. Had I wanted to participate, I could have activated from their website. Now I didn’t click the link in the email. I just went to my browser and typed in  If you aren’t sure what the exact website address is for a company you need to reach, you can aways look for them in a search engine.

Another good option would be that if you have a customer support email address or phone number from a source besides the suspicious looking email, you can contact the company and ask if any type of email offers were made.

Better safe than sorry.

~ Cynthia


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