‘Just heart-breaking’ Teenager saddled with £36,000 debt as fraudsters hacked into PayPal

Viewers of Rip Off Britain yesterday may have received a shock when they found out that Jacob, and his mum Kate, were hit with a letter from a debt collection agency stating they owe £36,000 even though they had never sold any items. When Jacob was 14, he opened a PayPal account with his child bank account details without his mum’s knowledge.

On the PayPal website, it states that an individual, must be at least 18 years old and have full legal capacity to enter into a contract to open a PayPal account and use the PayPal services.

As he was only 14, Jacob was underage when he signed up to PayPal.

Being so young at the time, Jacob didn’t take the necessary steps to protect his account or put any security checks on it.

At the time, Jacob was using his PayPal account to buy Legos, and other toys on eBay.

READ MORE: How Britons can save ‘efficiently’ for a comfortable retirement

Unfortunately, Jacob’s account was hacked by fraudsters, to scam people on social media.

Jacob said: “They were selling things through Facebook ads such as patio sets and folding 5G smartphones, which obviously aren’t out yet, but people still fall for these traps.”

The criminals took the money and did not supply any goods.

These customers demanded refunds through PayPal which in turn billed Jacob because his name was on the account.

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The first invoice was £31,000, which was followed a few days later with another letter from a debt collecting agency stating he owed £36,000.

Kate said: “It’s just heart-breaking that this could all affect the future of Jacob.

“He doesn’t deserve this type of consequence.”

Kate complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service, but the debt remained against Jacob’s name.

Finance expert Sarah Pennells offered Jacob guidance on what he can do to prevent further fraud in the future and how he can protect himself.

She said: “The organisation CIFAS monitors fraud. You can ask for an extra marker to be put on your account so that when somebody applies for credit, there’s extra security, or you will be notified.

“This also puts a stop to anybody else who may have got your details from being able to try and run up further debts in your name.

“That could damage your credit rating in the future.”

The CIFAS protection service costs £25 for two years and Britons can apply for this via their website.

PayPal told Rip Off Britain that Jacob is “not liable for the money outstanding on his account”, and that it has instructed the debt collecting agency “not to pursue any further action”.

To try and stop this happening to more people, the government put forward a proposal for the Duty of Care Bill.

The Bill will demand that in certain situations, tech companies should ask for evidence of someone’s age.

Express.co.uk has contacted PayPal asking for comment.

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