My PayPal account is frozen – can you unfreeze it?

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By Christopher Elliott

Paypal closed Hunter Roquemore’s account after he sold a computer on eBay. How can he unfreeze it?


About a year ago, I sold a computer through eBay using PayPal. A few weeks later I received the first of many calls from PayPal that I owed them the money.

The first time, a representative told me that the funds were not authorized for withdrawal and that I owed them. We went back and forth until I hung up. The second time, I was told that the package was delivered to the wrong address. I told a representative that I got the address from them, so that wasn’t my fault.

PayPal contacted me a third time, saying everything was OK, I didn’t owe them and that they had deleted my account. The next time I went to use their service, they said I should set up a new one. But I continued to get harassing and bullying phone calls for six months until they stopped.

I sold a watch on eBay two weeks ago, set up a new account on PayPal and was paid without problems. Initially, I ran into a problem because I forgot to set up the new PayPal account so I notified them that the old account was still live.

This set off problems

I sold another watch a week later, the funds were verified and when I tried to withdraw them. There was a limit put on my account.

I went into my account as directed to see the reason why and it wanted me to confirm my social security number. I did so and was told that this account was associated with another account and to call PayPal.

Yesterday I was told that I owed $900 and that until it was satisfied, I wouldn’t get my money.

battleface delivers insurance that doesn’t quit when circumstances change. We provide specialty travel insurance services and benefits to travelers visiting or working internationally, including in the world’s most hard to reach places. Currently selling in 54 countries and growing, our mission is to deliver simple solutions to travelers worldwide heading out on their next adventure.

Do I really owe PayPal money? And if not, how can I get my money back? — Hunter Roquemore, Atlanta


PayPal’s user agreement, the terms of service you agree to when you sign up, are pretty clear: You’re on the hook for the money.

If you’re an eBay Seller, you have agreed to comply with the eBay Buyer Protection resolution process. You’ve given eBay permission to make a final decision on a claim that a buyer files against you directly with eBay. If eBay makes a final decision that you lose a claim, you agree to allow PayPal to remove funds from your account.

By the way, PayPal and eBay are splitting into two separate companies. It’s unclear how that will affect PayPal’s terms of service in the future. (Yahoo closed a reader’s premium mail account, leaving him in the dark without any responses.)

Here’s what puzzles me

PayPal claims your computer was sent to the wrong address — an address it provided when you sold your PC. A representative eventually told you by phone that you didn’t have to cover the loss. So why were you now responsible? (Related: Help! I paid a scammer $1,200 for a free Costco magazine!)

I might have asked the third PayPal representative who called you — the one who said you were “OK” — to put that in writing. If you had that, then you might have been able to avoid the $900 bill. (Do you have unauthorized charges on your PayPal account? Here is how to get your money back.)

You may have misunderstood the directions of the representative who asked you to close your old account and open a new one. Once you gave PayPal your social security number, it appears that would’ve flagged your new account as a duplicate. Unless the representative fixed your old account, the problem wasn’t solved. (Check out this guide for valuable tips on how to resolve any consumer related issues.)

Still, if PayPal says you’re “OK,” even if it’s by phone, you should in fact be OK. I contacted PayPal on your behalf. A representative called you and agreed to write off the balance of the PC. PayPal reopened your account.

What should PayPal have done with Hunter Roquemore's account?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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