Some of the most common questions we are asked is “how do I know that you will actually write my paper for me and not steal my money?” or “how do I know that you are really going to complete my online class for me and not run off with my payment?”. These are entirely valid questions and over the course of almost a decade of completing classes for other people, there are ways in which we have found that a legitimate service differs from those who may actually be trying to steal your money or who are so overwhelmed with clients that they cannot manage classes successfully, resulting in substantial chargebacks and fraud claims, despite a lack of intentional dishonesty.
To better help you make an informed decision about the homework help service you may choose to work with, this is the first blog in a three-part series that helps you best identify who may be a great partner to work with in the process of having someone write your paper or take your online classes for you.
The first step to verify the legitimacy of an online tutoring service is evaluating how they bill you and one of the first questions to ask is:
Does the service bill with PayPal?
Despite the fact that fraud warnings everywhere tell you not to send money to people through PayPal, in reality, PayPal is the most trusted online payment processor for legitimate businesses for a variety of reasons. First, in a PayPal dispute, PayPal freezes the money associated with the transaction in a seller’s account, or, if the seller does not keep money in the PayPal account, PayPal places the account into a negative balance for the disputed amount. PayPal will always side with the buyer initially, which places the burden of proof on the seller. PayPal will also freeze and close accounts that have an unusual amount of chargebacks, disputes, or complaints, which then prevents the seller from continuing to use the email account associated with the PayPal account for billing through PayPal. Essentially, a company that has a history of failure to perform or fraud will not have a PayPal account that is verified AND which is linked to an email associated with any amount of historical presence online. Having a verified PayPal account is fairly easy, but having one that has any degree of history associated with the email and the PayPal account is virtually impossible if the seller does not consistently deliver to buyers as promised.
If an online homework help site does not bill through PayPal, consider this a potentially negative indicator of their legitimacy. If, however, the site does bill through PayPal it is important to verify their historical association with PayPal, rather than just whether or not they are a “verified” seller.
How to Determine a PayPal Verified Seller and What This Does and Does Not Mean
Before PayPal changed their site format, it was fairly easy to check the status of a PayPal seller. Now, this is more of a hassle, however below are the steps to take to determine if a PayPal seller is a Verified Recipient, which is the first phase of researching their credibility. Again, this does not mean the seller is honest, just that their PayPal account, at the moment, is in good standing, which could be because they just set it up.
First, ask the service for their PayPal email address. Next, go into your own PayPal account, and select “send and request”, which will bring you to the above screen.
From this screen, select “pay for goods or services” which will take you to the below screen.
As you can see, we are using a personal PayPal account (not linked to our business, so that the screenshots look like what yours will look like) and we have entered our business email into the correct area. When you select “next” the following is what you will see.
As you can see, we have entered the amount of $1, which will allow you to send a test payment to the PayPal seller’s account. You can use any amount, but this serves the purpose and costs you $1 instead of a few hundred if the seller is not legit. After this, you then select “continue” and process the payment on the next screen.
After the payment has been processed, you will then go to the “Activity” tab, which will show your most recent $1 transaction. Sometimes it takes PayPal a few minutes to update this, so give it a bit if you don’t see the transaction immediately. When you do see the transaction, click on it to expand the view, as shown below.(Obviously we blocked out our payment details, but you get the idea).
Next, click on “see details on classic site”, noted below.
This will then take you to the below screen, where you can then clearly see the email address and whether or not the seller is a verified PayPal recipient.
While you will not be able to see the length of time that the seller has been working with PayPal, in the event you are considering the use of our service, we have provided below a printscreen of a transaction completed to this same email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) from November 6, 2014, clearly demonstrating that our account has been verified and in good standing with PayPal for quite some time.
But, we said we’ve been doing classes for almost a decade…why are we only showing you about 1.5 years of proof that you’ve been a legitimate PayPal seller? Partly because this is the oldest transaction we can find between our business account and an employee-owned personal account, but also because prior to this time we used the email email@example.com. To further demonstrate the longevity of our relationship with PayPal, one that would not be possible if we were not in the business of honest partnerships with our clients, we have also provided you a screenshot below from August 13, 2013 which shows our status as being a Paypal verified seller with our old email and a screenshot from a transaction processed today that shows our old account as still being active and in good standing as a PayPal verified seller.
If a business cannot provide some degree of verification of the length of time they have had a positive relationship with PayPal (or if necessary another third-party payment processor), you may question their credibility. Although not all businesses have access to personal accounts that can be used to determine the longevity of their verified status, all businesses can pull transaction records from at least three years prior. If you are concerned about their legitimacy, request a printscreen of their oldest transaction, with of course the personal details eliminated. What they should send you will look something like the image below:
If a business says that they have recently changed emails, simply ask them for a confirmation of their oldest available transaction from their previous email, then send them a test $1.00 fee to their old email through PayPal to determine their “verified” status with PayPal. We changed emails because we discovered the idea of Google business email, so there are plenty of valid reasons a business switches email accounts, but this would not be a reason for their old PayPal email to no longer be in good standing. As you can see, our verified PayPal history is documented through the max period of time PayPal stores transactions for seller review- exactly three years ago today- and is confirmed as of today as continuing to be verified and in good standing.
This concludes the steps you may take to confirm the legitimacy of an online service in regards to their billing practices, even if they are using a reputable payment processing site like PayPal.
Final Note About PayPal and Legitimate Businesses
As a final note on why honest businesses like PayPal…
…we are never responsible for your financial information. As a third-party payment processor, PayPal is the only business that has access to your credit card, debit card, checking account, or other method of payment that you use to pay a PayPal vendor. We do not want your financial information! In the horrible event that your account information is stolen, we want to be 100% sure that there is no concern that we were responsible for the theft and by completing all of our billing with PayPal, this ensures that we are not responsible for your payment details and you do not have to trust us with your payment information. A business that does not use PayPal may still be legitimate, however if they require that you give them your billing information over the phone, via email, or in some manner in which your financial details are being directly given to them, rather than processed through a third-party service (such as Square, WePay, Amazon Payments, etc) this is a red-flag and we would encourage you to seriously consider whether you believe you can trust the person on the other end of the conversation.
Part two in our three-part series is entitled: Verifying the Historical Longevity of a Homework Help Site and will provide you with the links you can use to evaluate how long a company has been in business and what this may mean for their degree of legitimacy.