Be Careful Using PayPal Friends and Family Payments

PayPal offers two options for sending money to someone: “Goods or Services” and “Friends and Family.”

“Goods and Services” is how you pay for, well, goods and services. For example, say you’re like me and you have a vinyl record habit; you would use PayPal Goods or Services to buy yet another grip of semi-collectible audible oddities through a website like eBay. If the seller doesn’t ship anything, or sends a damaged item and won’t issue a refund, you can submit a claim through PayPal and get reimbursed if the seller refuses to make it right. It protects you from scammers and bad merchants.

On the other hand, if you just need to send money to a family member, you can use the Friends and Family option. This allows the person sending the money to pay the fee for using the service, rather than the recipient (as with Goods or Services payments).

There is only one case in which you should use Friends and Family: when you’re sending money to an actual friend or family member. Why? Because this payment option doesn’t have the same protections. Once you send money, it’s gone. There are no claims or disputes. It’s like wiring money or using peer-to-peer money transfer apps like Venmo or CashApp.

This lack of recourse for the sender has led scammers to place ads for everything from electronics to rental properties, then attempt to convince interested parties into sending payment through PayPal Friends and Family. This allows them to steal money without the victim being able to claw any of it back through a claims process.

The second an online seller requests that you pay with Friends and Family, cut off all contact and report the merchant to whichever website they’re selling on.