26 Tips on How to be Safe in Your eBay

By: mohit123


The irony of eBay is that as it grows to be ever more successful, it draws the unsavory element of the internet towards it. I'm talking about people who make it their business to attempt to defraud you and me in our eBay and PayPal transactions.

Of course, not all dodgy dealings on eBay are fraudulent. Some are just mischievous. Others are by chancres, who perhaps reckon their victims won't be bothered to pursue them.

Whoever causes it, it's left to the targeted buyer or seller to try and sort out the problem. All that we as users can do is to be extremely vigilant and cautious in all our eBay and PayPal activities.

Here is a list of practical steps, in no particular order, which buyers and sellers can take to help avoid becoming the next victim.

Hopefully you are already aware of some of these. It doesn't necessarily follow that if one of these applies the auction or person is fraudulent. But if you use your head, and build up a view of the overall transaction based upon a number of these factors, you will reduce your chances of getting conned.

a) Stock photos and descriptions
Because they don't have the item they are "selling", some fraudsters use a stock photograph of the item. And they will probably use the manufacturer's product description too. So, stock photos and no original description might be a sign. Search for other auctions by the same seller, and see if they are brazen enough to advertise the same item more than once.

b) A price too good to be true often isn't true
A fraudster wants your money quickly, so you may find they offer to close their auction early with you as the "winner" having bid a price which you know to be somewhat of a bargain. Why would anyone close their auction early if the price hadn't reached market levels? I'll give you one guess.

c) High value or high volume, newly registered sellers
Although the vast majority of new sellers are genuine and honest, be cautious of buying from people selling high value items in bulk, very early on in their eBay career. This pattern isn't quite normal. Think back to your own first sales. You would have been tentative, and probably have tried single, low value items initially. So, a new seller fitting this profile may be someone who has perhaps been previously suspended and has registered another ID.

d) 1 day listings
Although 1 day listing are used by genuine sellers who have more than one item or who want a quick sale, unfortunately this duration is attractive to fraudsters too. They sometimes use 1 day auction duration to gain a quick sale before their actions can be reported and acted upon. So, be extra wary on auctions with 1 day listing.

e) Invitations to trade off-eBay
This is a classic ploy of fraudsters. Having made some kind of contact with you or you with them, they will invite you to purchase or to sell off eBay i.e. without using eBay's auction services. The attraction here to the fraudster is that they can drive the transaction along the lines they prefer, whether that is escrow, PayPal etc. Another reason why trading off eBay is not a good idea is that you have to keep your own formal records of the transaction, and you forfeit any cover from eBay buyer protection and PayPal buyer protection. Plus, and this might be a minor point, but you will not be able to leave feedback to let others know your experience with this seller/buyer.

f) Payment methods with no recourse
Fraudsters prefer to chose payment methods in which the buyer has no protection, like wire transfers where the buyer has no way of tracing where the money is going. Western Union Money Transfers and BidPay are favorites and should be totally avoided. Postal orders are similar although they are a popular payment method among the genuine sellers as they require no clearance time. Bank transfers and cheques can only provide the possibility of your bank investigating the details of the account the money was transferred into. For the best protection use PayPal and fund with a Credit Card. Note there are limits on eBay and PayPal protection, and you should make yourself aware of what these are.

g) Unusual sales pattern
If your seller's feedback indicates that they normally deal in collectables, DVDs or other specific items, be suspicious that they are suddenly listing laptops, plasma TVs or other high value items. The change may indicate that this seller's account has been hijacked.

h) Bad English gives you a pointer
Some fraudsters operate from abroad but pretend to be in UK or USA. As they aren't particularly adept at the English language they might use a translation tool like Babelfish to create their emails to you. So, watch out for emails that are not good English. In itself, it doesn't prove anything; there are plenty of genuine eBay sellers for whom English is not their first language. But it might add to further evidence you have.

I) Location Location Location
In the case of lazy fraudsters you might find their locations don't match up. By that I mean the auction says the goods are in the UK, but the seller's ID details show their location to be, say, Ukraine. This is not a good sign. Often in these cases if you contact these sellers you will receive an excuse as to why the item is not in the UK, and therefore can't be collected in person. In short, if an auction says the item is in the UK and the seller says that it is not, I would avoid the auction. And don't forget to cross check with their PayPal account, and see in which country this resides.

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