Setting Up PayPal Two-Factor Authentication for Safe Online Shopping

Worried about hackers poaching your financial information when using PayPal? You might already know that you can set up PayPal two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security, but did you know there's a way to do it for free? Here, we show you how to bypass texting fees normally associated with using PayPal two-factor authentication in a few easy steps.

How does two-factor authentication work?

Even if you've never heard the term, you've likely used two-factor authentication, an added security feature that's optional on many websites, such as PayPal, Google, and Facebook, and mandatory for certain financial service websites.

Here's how it typically works: when you log in to a website, you always enter your username and password. With two-factor authentication, that website transmits a second password to another device that you choose (typically as a text to your smartphone). You must enter this second code within a given time frame to authenticate yourself. This safeguards you in the event someone obtains your username and password.

Step by step: Get your free PayPal two-factor authentication

You'll never have to worry about texting fees again with PayPal two-factor authentication once you set this up. After you log in, follow these nine easy steps:

1. Go to your profile

Click on the profile icon at the top right of your screen.
Paypal: Go to profile

2. Click on "Security" and then the edit box next to "Security Key"

Paypal: edit security key

3. Click "Get security key"

Paypal: get security key

4. Should you enter your mobile number?

Don't enter your mobile number unless you have an unlimited texting plan. Otherwise, you'll be charged for texts. If you have unlimited texting, you can enter your mobile number and you're done. Otherwise, leave the fields blank and click "Cancel" at the bottom of the page.

Paypal: cancel

5. Download the free VIP Access app

Go to the Symantec VIP Access website and follow the instructions to download the free app to your mobile phone. There are versions for your Android, iPhone/iPad, and other devices.

6. Open your VIP Access app

Once you've downloaded the VIP Access app on your mobile device, open and agree to its terms and conditions. The app will display a screen with your serial number (this is your credential ID generated by the VIP Access app) and a security code on a running timer. The app generates a new, unique code every 30 seconds.
Symantec VIP Access App Screenshot

7. Click "Activate your security key"

Return to the PayPal site where you left off and click the "Activate your security key" button.

Paypal: activate your security key

8. Enter serial number and two security codes

Enter your serial number generated by the VIP Access app. Then enter the six-digit security code. Let the timer run out and enter the "next 6-digit code." Click "Activate."
Paypal: Enter serial number

9. Log in and out to test

After you click activate, you should get a "Your security key is now active" message on the next screen. Log out and back into PayPal to test your new key. This time you'll have to enter only one security code generated by the VIP Access app to access your account.

It's free, so why not add more security?

It's important to know that the PayPal two-factor authentication feature isn't perfect. According to several 2014 reports, including Security Week, researchers at Escalate Internet found that a system called Adaptive Payments learned how to bypass PayPal's two-factor authentication. Breaches such as this are rare, say experts, and PayPal has remedied that specific issue. But with the rise in online security fraud, it seems imperative to add as many safeguards as you can to your online financial transactions. Two-factor authentication is your best security option when using PayPal, and now you can add it for free.

Have you used the VIP Access app for PayPal or another website? Does it make you feel more secure?