When making a PayPal account, you’re asked to provide a lot of information about who you are.
One piece of information you may want to protect is your real name. After all, there are many reasons why you may not want this displayed to others along with the payments that you send!
However, this leaves many people wondering – are you required to use your real name when signing up for PayPal, or can you use an alias?
In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know.
Can You Use A Fake Name For PayPal?
Unfortunately, you cannot use a fake name when signing up for a PayPal account.
While some people admit to doing so, they inevitably run into problems later down the line when PayPal needs to verify their identity.
This can be frustrating, especially for those who have a serious need to conceal their identity from those they are sending payments to. For example, if you are prone to harrassment from others you’re sending or receiving money from, you may wish to ensure that these people aren’t able to figure out who you are.
Therefore, you may wish to use a fake name, even if you have no intention from actually concealing your identity from PayPal themselves.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible though. If you sign up for a PayPal account, you must use your real name.
The only exception to this is if you are signing up for a business account, in which case you can use the company’s name instead. However, because the owners of businesses are publicly searchable (at least in the United States), even this may not fully conceal your identity from those who are determined to find it.
Under no circumstances do we recommend lying about any of the information PayPal asks of you – it is against their terms of service and will only cause problems.
PayPal’s Legal Requirements
When you think about it, signing up for a PayPal account is quite similar to signing up for an account at any other financial institution, such as a bank or a credit union.
If you were to provide fake information to a bank, it may be considered fraud which can land you in serious trouble.
Similarly, signing up to a PayPal account is like signing an electronic contract. If you aren’t actually signing it as yourself and use a fake name in its place, it’s akin to faking the signature on the contract – invalidating it completely.
This isn’t like signing up to any random website. PayPal (and any other companies that handle people’s money) is a serious business, and as a result of that their legal requirements are much more strict.
This is why PayPal needs to take such extreme steps to ensure everything is in order, and all of their data is accurate and up-to-date.
Know Your Customer Laws
Because PayPal is so heavily involved in people’s finances, they are subject to even stricter laws and regulations than normal companies are. One of these sets of regulations PayPal must adhere to are known as the ‘Know Your Customer‘ laws.
Know Your Customer laws require companies like PayPal to maintain strict records of who is using their services, and the transactions that are conducted on their platform. This information is used to prevent and counter crimes such as fraud or the funding of terrorism.
In order to adhere to Know Your Customer laws, PayPal will take steps to verify account holders. Other than needing your real name, they may also request your address or even your Social Security number in order to stay compliant.
If PayPal is unable to verify who you are, they may be legally required to prevent you from using their services.
What Happens If You Use A Fake Name For PayPal?
Let’s say you’ve already created a PayPal account, and you used a fake name when signing up. What happens now?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to change your name on PayPal if you’ve used a fake name. While name changes are possible due to misspellings or legal name changes (such as in the event of getting married), there is nothing you can do if you’ve used a fake name to sign up.
PayPal often requires you to submit photos of your government-issued ID to process name changes, and they won’t do it if you’ve used a fake name. This is why it’s all the more important to use your actual name from the very beginning!
So if you signed up with a fake name, what will happen?
The first thing you may need to worry about is PayPal asking you to verify your identity. This will likely happen at some point, because again – PayPal needs to ensure they have accurate records.
Because you will not be able to verify your fake identity, your PayPal account may be limited or closed. While researching this issue online, it appears that you may be able to withdrawal any money left in your PayPal account, but it can be held for up to 180 days. Therefore, you should keep this in mind if you were ever to use a PayPal account with a fake name.
That being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be permanently banned from using PayPal’s service. It appears that other people have been able to successfully close their old accounts, then open a new PayPal account with legitimate information.
This seems to be the best way to go about it.
Using a fake name violates PayPal’s terms of service, and may lead to account closures.
While there are legitimate reasons to want to conceal your identity while using PayPal’s services, unfortunately there is no easy way to do so. While you can create a business account and operate under your company name, you cannot get away with using any sort of fake name or alias.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them using the comment form below.
Thank you for reading,
– James McAllister
PayPal is a registered trademark of its owner. We are not affiliated with or endorsed by PayPal in any way. PayPal’s name is used only for nominative fair use.