If you surf eBay a lot, you inevitably run across the phrase “will ship only to PayPal Confirmed Addresses.” It took me a while, but I’ve finally been able to understand what this means.
When you first sign up for a PayPal account, and give PayPal your bank account information, you go through a process where you identify the amounts associated with two small deposits that PayPal deposits in your account, therein proving to them that you are the owner of the bank account. Once this process is complete, your account becomes “Verified,” and you can do certain things you couldn’t do before.
However this doesn’t mean that your address is “Confirmed” with PayPal. To get “Confirmed,” you have to add a credit card to your account, and then go through a similar “identify a code that PayPal includes in the transaction details on your credit card statement.” Because PayPal can tap into the credit card world’s address verification system, through this mechanism they can “confirm” your address.
Except when they can’t.
Address verification doesn’t work for all locations for all credit cards. PayPal’s help system says:
Please note that because not all credit card companies are currently able to confirm an address, only some UK and Canadian addresses may be confirmed at this time.
The confounding thing is that the PayPal website offers no way to tell whether your own address is, in fact, “Confirmed.” I emailed PayPal about this, and their reply was:
When you view past transactions, if you look at the details of the transaction, it will tell you if your address is confirmed.
The problem here, of course, is that if you don’t have any recent transactions, then you’ve got nothing to look at. And this is a problem if you want to buy something from someone who ships only to “Confirmed” addresses. A chicken and egg problem, in other words.
The email from PayPal also told me that my address is “Confirmed,” so it appears the only way to get this information otherwise is to email them with this question. Odd.