What If You Send Money to the Wrong Address on PayPal?

by Alan Sembera
David Woolley/Lifesize/Getty Images

Paypal and "Oops!" don't go well together. Your money is probably gone from your account already, since transactions happen instantly. There's a good chance you can cancel the transaction if the email address you entered is not attached to a Paypal account. Otherwise you may have to jump through some hoops to get your money returned.

Cancel Payment or Get a Refund

Step 1

Locate the listing for the payment in your account overview. If the payment was made more than seven days ago, click "History" near the top of the page to display transactions from the past 30 days. If the payment was made more than 30 days ago, use the options next to your account balance to display the correct date range.

Step 2

Check the "Order Status/Actions" column for the payment. If you see a link that says "Cancel," click it and then click "Cancel Payment" to stop the payment.

Step 3

Click "Details" if the payment has already been processed to view the name of the person or company that received the money, along with the email address.

Contact the person or company and ask that the payment be returned.

File a Dispute

Step 1

Click "Resolution Center" near the top of the page to file a dispute if the recipient won't return the money. Click the "Dispute a Transaction" button, and then select "I Have a Problem With an Item I Purchased." Click "Continue" when done.

Step 2

Enter the transaction ID from the payment you are disputing. You can find the transaction ID by clicking the "Find Transaction ID" button and locating the payment in your account history. Click the transaction ID corresponding the erroneous payment. Click "Continue" when done.

Step 3

Select "I Haven't Received My Item," and then click "Continue."

Step 4

Select any of the item categories - Paypal doesn't provide a specific category for mistakes -- and then type a short message explaining your mistake. Paypal will forward this message to the person that received your payment, and give the other person a chance to respond. You and the other person can exchange messages through the Resolution Center.

Escalate the dispute to a claim if the other party does not return the money. You have 20 days from the time you open the dispute to file a Paypal claim. Once you file the claim, Paypal will review any messages sent through the Resolution Center and make a decision on your claim. If Paypal decides in your favor, the money will be returned to your account.


  • Don't wait too long to file a dispute; you only have 45 days to dispute the payment through Paypal. The 45 days start the day you made the payment.


  • Generally you will only see the "Cancel" option when the email address isn't linked to a Paypal account. In these cases Paypal sends a notice to the email address, and the recipient must link the address to a Paypal account to claim the money. If the money remains unclaimed after 30 days, it returns to your account automatically.
  • If your error was of major proportions, contact Paypal's customer service to get a quicker response. (See link in Resources.) You might also consider filing a dispute and claim right away so Paypal can put a hold on the money in the other party's account.


Photo Credits

  • David Woolley/Lifesize/Getty Images

About the Author

Alan Sembera began writing for local newspapers in Texas and Louisiana. His professional career includes stints as a computer tech, information editor and income tax preparer. Sembera now writes full time about business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Texas A&M University.

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