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Paypal for Location Independent Business Warning

Paypal is a revolutionary tool that helps make running a small location independent business a strikingly easy reality. Paypal is a conventionally accepted way to send and receive money, it is a way to pay employees, buy goods, and receive payments from anywhere in the world. That is until they shut down your account. I [...]

Paypal is a revolutionary tool that helps make running a small location independent business a strikingly easy reality. Paypal is a conventionally accepted way to send and receive money, it is a way to pay employees, buy goods, and receive payments from anywhere in the world.

That is until they shut down your account.

I have been using Paypal to receive donations and make payments related to Vagabondjourney.com from all over the world for the past three years. Before this, I used Paypal internationally for personal uses. I am sure that my sign in log spans 5 continents.

It is readily apparent that international log ins should not, on their own, be taken as an indication that my account security has been compromised. This is why I am confused as to why temporary restrictions were placed upon my account after logging in and requesting money from San Salvador.

My account has not been shut down. I can still log in, I can still receive payments –feel free to make a donation ;-), but I cannot send money, or withdraw the money from my account without first going through a security check.

To complete this check I need to answer a phone call from Paypal at my permanent address.

While in San Salvador I had previously attempted to clear out my account and have a check mailed to my permanent address, which would then be deposited into my back account by my parents. I have been doing this periodically for many years — this is how I get the money from donations, advertisers, and other Vagabondjourney.com activities into my hands.

But my account has been restricted, I cannot receive my own money — I cannot have a check sent from Paypal to the same address that I have been sending them to for the past decade. This is the first time that I have had any problems.

To get my account functioning again Paypal says that I have to answer a telephone call from them at my home address, and then enter in a specified code. They say that this is a security measure “to make sure that I am at my home address.”

But I use Paypal precisely because I am NOT at my home address — I am traveling, I need a way to send and receive money while being independent of any one location.

I must wonder: how can I answer a telephone at my parent’s house in New York when I am in El Salvador? I suppose I call my father and have him pick up the phone.

I use Paypal because it usually works, people are comfortable using it, it is a truly great system. I only wish that the service could be better adapted to suit the needs of location independent businesses, and people who regularly travel between countries.

But even more pressing I must wonder why there is not a better way of certifying account usage for people who are using the service away from their home address.

I know that I am not alone in having this trouble. Paypal is used by people who run location independent businesses all over the world. This is becoming a common way to live and work. I am sure the Paypal reps are aware that people are using their service in this way — their service begs to be used as such. I therefore have difficulty understanding why Paypal presents so many barriers for location independent usage. IS there not another way to verify accounts that does not involve flying across the planet just to answer a telephone call?

Filed under: Central America, El Salvador, Money

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

11 comments… add one

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  • craig | travelvice.com April 25, 2010, 1:45 am

    You and Andy need to go in half on a US-based VPN connection (they’re just $15 a month or so). Do all your banking as if you’re in the States — no more problems w/ silly PayPal security.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 25, 2010, 2:17 am

      Thanks Craig,

      Will definitely check this out.

      Link Reply
  • Mike Crosby April 25, 2010, 1:17 pm

    Wade, I talked to my wife and she had this idea: Have your phone in Maine call forwarded to your cell phone in El Salvador.

    Just an idea

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 25, 2010, 2:58 pm

      This would be a great idea except that it is my parent’s phone.

      Thanks though!

      Link Reply
  • The Longest Way Home April 26, 2010, 3:26 am

    i think you can run a proxy through a shared server too re craigs suggestion. Would be cheaper than a vpn. Either way. Count me in too, if the finances are affordable that is.

    Link Reply
  • The Longest Way Home April 26, 2010, 3:39 am

    or second idea. Do as the Ugandans do. Lets set up a paypal location independant solution for travelers. Website + usa based telephone line + reliable person to answer it. Or would that compromise security questions details etc?

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 26, 2010, 12:48 pm

      Sure thing, Dave, will check into these ideas. It may be worth it to have full confidence when sending and receiving money.

      Do you have a permanent address anywhere?

      The only security protocal that you need to go through is enter in a four digit code after you instruct Paypal to call you. That is all there is to it.

      Link Reply
      • The Longest Way Home April 26, 2010, 7:56 pm

        I use some friends addresses. But it’s not feasible to always ask, if you know what I mean.

        Am thinking of using another provider as I see these stories popping up everywhere.

        I just can’t believe it’s a four digit code via a phone line?!! not the most secure of things.

        Are they after a landline or mobile number?

        Link Reply
        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 26, 2010, 9:36 pm

          I think it is just a phone number that has the same address as your credit card. They just want to make sure that the person who is accessing the account online is a person who can answer a telephone at a pre-specified home address. Or, in my case, can give permission to a person at that address. It is my impression that they just want to be able to connect the account user with their address. There were a couple other security protocals that I had to go through as well, such as changing the password and designing new security questions.

          I have no idea if a cell phone could be used for this.

          It would be a good idea to have a work around to always needing to confirm our accounts, as this seems to be a re-occurring problem.

          Link Reply
  • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 26, 2010, 6:23 pm

    This situation seems to be straightened out now. I had my father at enter in the code. It is still my impression that this is a silly way to prove account validity. It is my impression that most adults don’t have home addresses that are still their parents’ house — what if nobody was at the place where my home telephone rings?

    What do I do? Go home just to answer the phone?

    Link Reply
  • paypal fees May 18, 2010, 1:38 pm

    why paypal acount is not allowed in pakistan. why this is big Q to all people. but i thing big countries like USA and Uk dont want any muslim country to develop. so i request to all countries plz give us paypal services also becouse pakistani people also want best and safe way of moeny transfer moeny.

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