PayPal is currently the most popular payment solutions in the online universe. For freelancers with international clients, having a paypal account is a must because their clients are more likely to use PayPal as their mode of sending payment. Without a Paypal account, a freelancer stands at a disadvantage compared to the other freelancers.
While signing up for a PayPal account is easy compared to the other payment solution provider, freelancers should be aware that Paypal is capable of putting limitations on your account. PayPal can actually suspend your account and place your funds on hold. This means that unless the issue between the freelancer and PayPal is addressed, the freelancer will not be able to withdraw his funds or use it to make any online purchases.
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So, why would a freelancer’s PayPal account be limited?
There are many possible reasons a person’s account maybe limited or suspended. Some accounts can be suspended when there is a spike in sales. For instance, your average transaction in the past months is $2,000. If your average monthly transactions suddenly jumps to $10,000, PayPal will be alerted and your account maybe limited.
Another red flag is when PayPal receives complains from your buyers/clients. For instance, your client calls their credit card company to dispute the transaction. Once PayPal receives an unusual number of chargeback requests, your account may be limited.
In our case, PayPal stated that our account has reached a specific milestone. Hence, PayPal advised us to confirm our identity. Its email message is stated below:
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Paypal sent the same message to our email for several times to remind us that we need to take the time to confirm our identity. Unfortunately, we failed to comply with Paypal’s instruction. We failed to confirm our identity and send the required documents within the deadline.
As a result of this failure, Paypal eventually sent us this message below informing that our account has been limited.
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When an account is limited, the owner of the account loses some of the control over his funds. He can still access his account, change his credit card details and update his contact info and addresses. However, the freelancer will not be able to withdraw the balance on his Paypal account, use the balance to make purchases and issue refunds. The freelancer can still issue invoices and receive payment from its clients. But the freelancer will not be able to utilize them.
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At this point, a freelancer has to make a decision. Do you still continue using your PayPal account and allow the funds to accumulate while waiting for PayPal to approve the confirmation of your identity? Or, you use another PayPal account in the meantime that the issue is being addressed.
If you continue using the same account that has been limited, you are exposing yourself to the risk that these funds may stay with PayPal for several months until the issue is resolved. Let us say, you have $1,000 at the time the account was limited. If you continue using the same PayPal account to receive funds and it accumulates to $5,000, you will not be able to utilize the entire fund. In our research after our account was limited, we read some stories that some PayPal users’ funds were held for more than 6 months. This presents a serious problem if you are operating your business as it may affect your cash flow.
If you maintain two or more PayPal account, then you are in luck. This means that you can utilize the second or third PayPal accounts immediately and receive payments from your clients.
In our case, we did not have any other alternative PayPal account. Our initial option was to allow the funds to accumulate while we try to resolve the issue with PayPal. So, we utilized the same PayPal account to receive the payments for the next several weeks hoping that our issue will be immediately resolved.
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In order to restore the account back to regular status, we immediately confirmed our identity and sent the existing documents that we had at the time.
One of the problems we had was that since this is a business account, we had to show proof of address under the name of the business. At the time, we had none because until that time PayPal never required us before to submit any proof of documentation under our business name. We were definitely not prepared for such requirements.
When we uploaded our proof of address under our personal name, PayPal sent us the message below:
We had an issue with requirement no. 2 which is the proof of address document. It was not available at the time. We also realized that it might take some time to secure the documents it required. In the meantime, we allowed the funds to accumulate under the same PayPal account and continued accepting payments from our clients.
When we finally secured the documents, we contacted PayPal on how we could upload the correct documents. At that point, there was no existing option in our dashboard on how we can upload the documents which is contrary to its instructions. Thus, we emailed email@example.com with the right documents attached.
Based on the emails we received, we were supposed to be able to upload the documents by merely following the steps in the email they sent. Despite logging into our account, we still could not upload the document. The options mentioned in the emails they were sending were not available on our dashboard. Thus, the only option available for us was to continue sending the documents to firstname.lastname@example.org hoping that somebody from PayPal will actually be able to read our email and send clear instructions.
Despite our repeated emails, we received the same automated replies from PayPal representatives.
Realizing that the issue may time a couple of weeks or even months to be resolved, we resolved that the more prudent thing for us to do was to create a new PayPal account and use that new account in the meantime.
Meanwhile, we still continued to send the documents to email@example.com. Unfortunately, we continued receiving the same automated replies. Not once did we get a specific response giving us the link on how we can upload our documents.
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Frustrated, we tried to call Paypal using the number indicated on our dashboard. We purchased credits from Skype worth $10 and contacted +1-402-935-2050.
Our call was initially transferred to call center representatives who screened our call. When we informed them that we want our account placed on regular status once again, they transferred us to another department.
The conversation with the Paypal representative was very brief but the entire call lasted more than 45 minutes in view of the long waiting time. When we were finally able to talk to the representative, we informed him about our issue. Subsequently, he gave us the link below:
With this link, we were finally able to upload the bank certifications and other documents required from us. It also took a couple of days for them to review the document. After 5 days, our account was still limited.
So, we called the same number to follow up on the response. They informed us that the document is still under review and that we should wait 24 to 48 hours more.
After 24 hours, we received the email below:
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Our account was limited for almost three months. It severely affected our cash flow. It almost affected our ability to pay our writers who should not be made to suffer because of our fault. Needless to state, Paypal’s limitation of our account can affect a freelancer’s business and damage his reputation to his writers.
So what did we learn from what had happened?
1. Never ignore Paypal’s emails. When they send you a message, make sure that you immediately comply and send the documents they need. Ensure that you send the right documents. If you are using a business account, its better that you have a bank account or billing under the name of your business, just in case they ask for it.
2. Make sure that you have a backup Paypal account that you can use in case your account is suspended or limited. Some freelancers say they have more then 3 Paypal accounts that they use alternately so as to avoid alerting Paypal for any spike in sales.
3. Some freelancers utilize other online payment solutions like Skrill and 2checkout.com. We checked it them out as well and actually signed up for them. We realized however that nothing beats Paypal in terms of convenience and easy integration with our website.