Several years ago I joined, WritingForums.com a writing site. I was impressed, and enjoyed it enough that I was moved to donate $25. I didn’t make it recurring, but fully expected to donate each year.
A year later, the site asked if I wanted to do it again, and I said yes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching my bank account closely enough that month, because they made two deductions of $25, a day apart. I’m guessing that even though I hadn’t selected the recurring option, the site owner checked it for me. And when I said yes to the second year, he established a second $25 yearly donation. But I didn’t learn that until May 5th and 7th of this year, when both “donations” repeated. Making things even worse, because I wasn’t expecting a $50 charge, that account had insufficient funds to cover the unexpected withdrawal, which meant a $37 overdraft fee.
Making matters worse, I was no longer a member of that forum. Because of a dispute with an overzealous moderator, my account had been closed, weeks before.
I initially assumed that the charge was a mistake, and wrote the site’s owner. When I received no response I opened a dispute with PayPal. But a week later, with no request for data, or any communication from PayPal the dispute was canceled. And, though I have tried to contact them more than a few times, my communications have been ignored.
So here’s the problem, and why it relates to you: PayPal is not a bank, and not based in the US. So they can do pretty much what they care to with your money. If you’re a seller they can freeze your account and lock up your money. And there’s nothing you can do about it. As a buyer, if someone makes a charge you dispute they can ignore it, as they did mine.
In this case, a man has stolen $75 from me by means of fraudulent billing, and cost me an additional $37. And PayPal? They literally doesn’t care, so they are obviously comfortable with being complicit in the commission of a crime.
And of course, for you writers, The WritingForums site is a good one, But be very careful about donating money, because, like it or not, they will take it as permission to tap your card over and over again.
Spread the word, because anyone using PayPal should be aware of how they do business, and of how little protection we have.