A tipster writes us to complain about eBay subsidiaries Skype and PayPal's response to identity theft. Reading his letter, which we've copied below, you'll see the problem is not so much that Skype and PayPal wouldn't refund the money the thief spent using our tipster's account. Rather, it's how inefficiently the companies responded to the problem. They required our tipster send three fraud reports and a letter over several weeks before finally explaining that no, they wouldn't give him his money back. Another customer with the same problem writes on the Skype forum: " Is there no support here? Is Skype asleep?"

Here's how it works: Get up one morning, check your email on your iPhone. There's a message from PayPal confirming your 100 Euro purchase of services from Skype. Whoa. I didn't order 100 Euros of anything. And in Euros? You go to your computer, wake it out of its sleep, and an alert window from Skype is waiting for you. "Your Skype password has been recently changed. You need to sign in again with your new password in order to use Skype. This is a security measure taken in order to prevent your Skype Account from being abused." Hmm. I didn't change my password. You try to login to Skype. You can't. You visit your PayPal account. 100 Euros has been taken out of it to purchase Skype services. You think fast, cancel the agreement you had between PayPal and Skype to pay a $3 monthly fee for SkypeOut. You send a fraud report to PayPal. You send a fraud report to Skype. In both reports you summarize the issue: someone hijacked your Skype account and stole 100 Euros (about $142) worth of Skype services from you. Nothing authorized by you at any point. It's called theft. All will be good, right? PayPal takes four days to make a determination. Quote: "A PayPal claims specialist has reviewed the case and determined that the claim does not meet the criteria for unauthorized use, so the case is now closed." Are you kidding? According the the "specialists", theft is not unauthorized use. Skype gets to keep its 100 Euros that was stolen from you. You think, "I'll just appeal this..where's the 'appeal' link?" You find there is none. You have to write PayPal a letter. Yes, a letter. To Omaha, Nebraska. A letter asking for the documentation they used to make the determination. An Internet company insists you write them a letter. OK, surely Skype will help out. That is, if they ever write back. They take nearly two weeks to get around to assigning a human to the case. Skype writes back in 10 days. "Patrick P. is on the case. Patrick says: "In your case it appears that someone has succeeded in fraudulently obtaining your PayPal account and purchasing credit." You think, "great, somebody understands." Patrick goes on: "First, you are not liable for this transaction in any way. " Sweet. You'll just appeal to Skype and... Wait. You read further. "We suggest that you submit a Transaction Dispute via Paypal.com." Great. Back to square one. Patrick sends another email a couple of days later. It's about that money that was stolen from you to buy services from them that you didn't authorize. "Skype can not refund the money you might have lost due to this incident. Every user has to take care of his/her security systems on private computers." "Money you might have lost?" You did lose money...and by the way, it's your fault, loser.

(Photo by Joi)