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How to Report a Case of EBay Fraud

Jul 6, 2008
eBay is a wonderful and obviously very popular place to buy and sell items. However, there are times when fraud does occur. If this happens to you, you might wonder what your next step should be, or if you have any recourse.

Once you have determined that you are dealing with a case of fraud, you may wonder, who can you turn to?

The FBI or attorney general's office in your state is unlikely to be helpful unless the case involves a large amount of money, say for over $100,000. Local law enforcement will not be helpful unless the other party is in the same state.

The Better Business Bureau is not a government organization. They collect money from businesses listed on their sites. They will not investigate and will never recover any money for you.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will allow you to file a complaint online at ftc.gov; however, this information is kept for statistical reasons and no one will investigate your case.

What you should do is immediately file a fraud report at the Auction-Safety organization website. Filing a report there will give you more specific information on what you should do next and who you should contact next.

If you paid by PayPal then you should file for a payment reversal as soon as you suspect something is not right. If it turns out there was a mistake or misunderstanding, you can always cancel the reversal at PayPal or resend the payment. If you paid by credit card, you should have at least 30 days to file a complaint and recover your money.

If your eBay or PayPal account has been compromised (unusual transfers to/from PayPal, auctions posted using your account or strange emails from eBay) you should immediately change both your eBay and PayPal passwords, then contact both companies.

After reporting the fraud, or even if you have traded safely and successfully, it is important to remain vigilant since personal information gathered during an eBay transaction can be used later in a case of "real world" fraud.

Both eBay buyers and sellers should be very careful of any telemarketers or unusual postal mail or emails they receive after an auction transaction. Scammers may offer inexpensive items for sale on eBay to collect buyer information, or they may buy inexpensive items from sellers for the purpose of collecting the seller's personal address and phone number. The scammer now has a name, address, and phone number associated with an eBay ID.

A scammer can then send customized emails that look exactly like real eBay emails and include your name to make them look authentic. They could also use various telemarketing tricks by calling your phone number and pretending to be a company you know or to have something of interest to you now that they know your auction interests. They will say your name and address to 'verify' they are legitimate.

Of course, they will never say that they obtained your information from an auction and will try to obtain more information from you, such as personal financial information or credit card numbers.

If your Caller ID shows "Out Of Area" or "Unavailable" it means the caller is intentionally hiding who they are and you should never trust anything they say.

To protect yourself from such "after eBay real-world" fraud attempts, make sure you have registered your phone number at the government site DoNotCall.gov. This is a listing of phone numbers that telemarketers are legally prohibited from calling. If you sign up on this list and a telemarketer calls you, then you know they are trying to scam you because honest telemarketers will not call numbers on the Do Not Call list. You can report violations of the Do Not Call list because that is a federal crime.
About the Author
For more info about steps to take in the aftermath of eBay fraud, visit http://www.Auction-Safety.org, and file an interactive fraud report that provides specific, tailored advice on what you should do next and who to contact, based on your specific situation. This site is the brainchild of Michael Ford.
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