PayPal account closed without warning and balance withheld

Hello all,

I’m an artist and sell photographic prints online. I recently connected my website to the PayPal account I’ve had for 10+ years. I was made to convert my PayPal account to ‘business’ as part of this process. 

I released a print on Instagram, directing people to my website to buy, and had numerous sales from different international locations in a short period. 

PayPal withheld some of the payments, asking me to upload two new pieces of ID in enhanced security checks. I also had to mail all my orders and enter the tracking numbers within a short timeframe. I completed all these things and the payments all showed in my balance. 

A couple of weeks later I tried to log into my account to transfer the money to my bank. I received an auto generated email stating my account has been permanently suspended due to suspected fraud and the money held for 180 days. It’s £2k! Their “decision is final”.

I am in contact with all my customers and they have all received their orders.

There are no customer service channels available to discuss this with PayPal. Messaging on social media has not worked. I can’t speak to anyone to find out what happened, let alone dispute it, as the phone service says they have no representatives due to Covid and cuts off every time.  

I sent a recorded letter to senior staff at their London HQ and have not heard anything. 

I’ve since heard from other artists / small business owners that this has also happened to them. Some with significantly higher amounts of money involved. Some say they never got the money. This has also invalidated my website which unfortunately only has the option to interface with PayPal through the site host meaning I’m missing out on income. 

Help! I’m a new parent (lockdown baby!) - I cant afford to write off this money. 
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Replies

  • jim1999jim1999 Forumite
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    There is very little you can do, but if you make clear to Paypal that your message is a complaint and they don't respond (as you've experienced, they don't respond) for 8 weeks, you can then escalate to the Financial Ombudsman https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumers/how-to-complain
  • soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    Did all of your i formation match entirely? For instance if the PayPal name was Mr John Harris is that also the name on your bank account and photo ID?

    Did PayPal mention anything About a connected account, is this your first and only PayPal account , has anyone connected with you or your address ever had issues with PayPal.

    The only other thing I can think of is the images, Nothing that might offend PayPal who are strangely moralistic. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
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  • TripleHTripleH Forumite
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    The only other thing I can think of is the images, Nothing that might offend PayPal who are strangely moralistic. 
    That surprises me with the ebay definition of 'art'
    Sarahmerryn, is it possible to setup a new business paypal account whilst this issue is being dealt with so you can still generate income? (I have no idea of the issues around this, others such as Soolin arecfar more knowledgeable.   
    Wherever you go, whatever you do Richard Marx is right there waiting for you.

    Sweet dreams!
  • theonlywayisuptheonlywayisup Forumite
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    TripleH said:
    The only other thing I can think of is the images, Nothing that might offend PayPal who are strangely moralistic. 
    That surprises me with the ebay definition of 'art'
    Sarahmerryn, is it possible to setup a new business paypal account whilst this issue is being dealt with so you can still generate income? (I have no idea of the issues around this, others such as Soolin arecfar more knowledgeable.   
    Setting up another account will likely mean the OP never gets the money and gets more held in any new account.  

    The only way forward is to be persistent with Paypal and continue to try to contact them.  In years gone by there used to be a fax number you can send documentation to but this is probably no longer an option. 
  • TripleHTripleH Forumite
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    Fair enough. 
    I had in the back of my mind that I'd  read of people mentioning they had a separate business and personal paypal account (accepting that there could be different arrangements in place depending how their businesses are structured).
    Sarahmerryn, please ignore my previous post.
    Wherever you go, whatever you do Richard Marx is right there waiting for you.

    Sweet dreams!
  • soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    TripleH said:
    Fair enough. 
    I had in the back of my mind that I'd  read of people mentioning they had a separate business and personal paypal account (accepting that there could be different arrangements in place depending how their businesses are structured).
    Sarahmerryn, please ignore my previous post.
    You can hold one of each type of paypal account, I have the standard one and a micro. However, both are technically linked- so if I defaulted on one account the other can be used to repay any debts- and if one is closed for fraud I lose both. Opening a second account when restricted or suspended on the first is a direct way of never ever getting your funds again.

    We used to be trawled by bots who may now contact OP and offer , for a small fee, a guide to stealth accounts- these might last a while, perhaps even a year- but ultimately paypal will notice and grab all that money as well. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • sarahmerrynsarahmerryn Forumite
    6 Posts
    First Post
    soolin said:
    Did all of your i formation match entirely? For instance if the PayPal name was Mr John Harris is that also the name on your bank account and photo ID?

    Did PayPal mention anything About a connected account, is this your first and only PayPal account , has anyone connected with you or your address ever had issues with PayPal.

    The only other thing I can think of is the images, Nothing that might offend PayPal who are strangely moralistic. 
    Hi and thanks so much for this. And to the other posters.

    I’ve never had another PayPal account and haven’t tried to make a new one since this issue. My bank account is registered to my parents‘ address and always has been as I’m a London renter and have moved every year or so for the past several years. My driver's license which I used as my photo ID is registered to my current address in London as that’s a legal requirement.

    The artwork isn’t anything weird that someone could moralise over. 

    I’m really at a loss of what to do. For those who say there’s not much that can be done I refuse to believe that it’s ok for a company to withhold £2,000 of money from an innocent individual - it’s a huge amount of money to me and couldn’t come at a worse time. 

    I’m now in the position where I have three customers in America actively in touch with me and trying to buy prints who are not able to use internet banking to make a BACS transfer for one reason or another. Their business is worth a total to me of £1,000. I am loathe to set up a new account with a different payment platform in case I have the same issue. Some of these are owned by PayPal in any case. 

    Short of sending recorded delivery mail there is absolutely no way of me speaking to anyone. As I say, the phone cuts off every single time. I have tried calling now many times. 
  • PetriixPetriix Forumite
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    I suggest you setup an account with a different payment provider; possibly one with a virtual terminal to allow you to take card payments over the phone. There are a wide range of options. Then move your website to a different host who is able to interface with your new payment provider.
  • edited 2 August 2020 at 7:47PM
    soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    edited 2 August 2020 at 7:47PM
    Unfortunately the mis match between the address connected with your bank and your photo ID is enough to raise a red flag with PayPal. The ID was needed to prove you are who you say you are and are at the address associated as a primary account with your PayPal account. This is to stop scammers using stolen IDs . I can’t see any way around this , I’ll have a think but at the moment I’m at a bit of a loss to suggest anything useful. 

    As for other payment platforms, I agree that you are likely to run into the same ID issues . Banks and financial institutions need to know who you are, your mis matching IDs is going to be a stumbling block wherever you try. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • sarahmerrynsarahmerryn Forumite
    6 Posts
    First Post
    Thank you.  
    Unfortunately I’m not savvy with things like this. I feel they should explain the consequence of uploading documents without exactly the same information before you do it. In any case, they allowed the payments to come in before doing this due diligence which is surely wrong if they’re not willing or able to enter into disputes. 
    I would be able to change my address at the bank this week and can provide them with proof that I am the person I say I am.  If only they had any form of customer service!
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