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PayPal freezes Valley man's money over name dispute

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Williams said he opened his PayPal account under another name, but insists it has never been a problem. (Source: 3TV) Williams said he opened his PayPal account under another name, but insists it has never been a problem. (Source: 3TV)
Chris Williams says he has use PayPal for about five years. (Source: 3TV) Chris Williams says he has use PayPal for about five years. (Source: 3TV)
He ran into trouble with his PayPal account after making a big sale on eBay. (Source: 3TV) He ran into trouble with his PayPal account after making a big sale on eBay. (Source: 3TV)
'I felt like it was kinda a David and Goliath type issue, that I wasn't gonna get anything done by me being an individual so I just reached out to Channel 3," Williams said. 'I felt like it was kinda a David and Goliath type issue, that I wasn't gonna get anything done by me being an individual so I just reached out to Channel 3," Williams said.
Restricted activities defined in PayPal's user agreement; Click to enlarge (Source: PayPal.com) Restricted activities defined in PayPal's user agreement; Click to enlarge (Source: PayPal.com)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Designed to be secure and simple for buyers and sellers alike, PayPal is supposed to be a safe way to pay for goods and services online.

Chris Williams says he’s no stranger to PayPal, but after five years of problem-free use, he’s having trouble getting his money – about $700. He says PaylPal is giving him a hard time because of his last name.

The money in question is from a recent sale Williams made on eBay.

“I sold a Revo, which is a radio remote control car,” he explained. “They retail at about $1,000 for just the car.”

Williams said he could see that the sale had gone through and the money – a little more than $700 – was in his PayPal account. The problem was he couldn’t touch it.

“After the money was cleared I couldn't access it, due to numerous reasons PayPal gave me,” Williams said.

One reason Paypal gave, according to Williams, was that his account had been set up with a different last name

“On this particular PayPal account, it’s Christopher Vain,” he explained. “I’ve used it plenty of times.”

Williams said Vain is the name he uses for all of his social media account and he’s never had a problem before.

PayPal, however, asked him to prove his identity.

“[PayPal wanted to to] send documents stating my address, stating my Social Security number which is my Social Security card, my driver's license,” Williams said. “I went as far as giving them my birth certificate. I send this all to PayPal and the result is still the same.”

Williams still cannot get the money that’s sitting in his Christopher Vain PayPal account.

“I felt like it was kinda a David and Goliath type issue,  that I wasn't gonna get anything done by me being an individual so I just reached out to Channel 3,” a frustrated Williams said.

3 On Your Side contacted PayPal. A representative said that due to privacy concerns, the company couldn't share specific information with us. That rep promised to look into the issue.  

Williams said he hopes it's resolved soon because he needs that money.

“This is a car payment; this is a house payment,” he said. “This is a bulk of change someone could use and plus it's the holiday season.”  

PayPal frowns on the use of fictitious names, saying its service is similar to a bank account, only without the FDIC insurance.  While fake names are not specifically addressed in the company’s user agreement, there is a clause in the “restricted activities” section that applies to this kind of situation.  Under the user agreement, people agree that they will not “Provide false, inaccurate or misleading information” in connection with their accounts or interactions.

We will let you know how this plays out.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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