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Safe Trading on eBay: Avoiding Fraud for Buyers & Sellers

Aug 17, 2007
Turn on CNN or Fox News, read a column on the Internet or play your favorite all news radio station an you'll become acutely aware of the "so-called" fraud online - specifically related to eBay.

Definition of Fraud: "In a broad strokes definition, fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation which causes another person to suffer damages, usually monetary losses."

Like many, I have had negative experiences one eBay. However, I've also had negative experiences with unscrupulous people in the real world. The truth is that eBay is just a microcosm of real-life society where 99.9% of people are good nature.

Have you had a bad experience on eBay? I spoke with someone recently who said that a "fraudulent experience on eBay" ruined their desires to use eBay as a sales platform." That seems just a bit immature, don't you think? Just a few weeks ago my nine year old daughter left her board shorts on a lounge chair while swimming in the pool (at a nationally recognized vacation resort). When she returned, her shorts were gone. Someone stole her shorts. Fraud and theft. How should my nine year old respond? Should she never swim in a public pool again?

Of course not. But, she can learn a valuable life lesson of how to protect herself and her property. And to that we discover the purpose of this article. How can we protect ourselves from potential fraud on eBay?

Fraud on eBay, while small in proportion to the number of transactions that take place, is a real issue for the unsuspecting eBay member. Follow the following points to reduce the potential of fraud on eBay in your online trading adventures.

Fraud Tip #1: Understand Phishing

1. A new word to the Websters' Dictionary for 2005, this has become #1 of the top areas of Fraud Alert in the history of the internet. Here is the definition from dictionary.com: "A method of identity theft carried out through the creation of a website that seems to represent a legitimate company. The visitors to the site, thinking they are buying something from a real business, submit their personal information to the site. The criminals then use the personal information for their own purposes, or sell the information to other criminal parties." In specific terms, it may relate to your eBay membership, PayPal account, bank account, credit card, or other account where you need an ID, password and/or personal information.

2. Fraud on eBay can occur when you receive a phishing email that sounds 100% legitimate. It might come from: support@... And looks like this: "Dear eBay member, You have received this warning because we have strong reason to believe that your eBay account had been recently compromised and it could be used by a third party without your authorization. In order to prevent any fraudulent activity from occurring we are required to open an investigation into this matter. To speed up this process, you are required to verify your eBay account by following the link below."

a. Here's what happens: when you click on the link listed, you are taken to a web page that looks exactly the same as the sign-in page -- for example, you are sure you are at the eBay sign-in page. You are asked for personal information, including ID and password, etc.

3. How to protect yourself? You need to know that eBay, PayPal or any other secure site will NEVER ask for your personal, identifying information in an email. What should you do? Delete the email and tell yourself you're not going to fall victim to a phishing scam.

A high percentage of online and eBay fraud is eliminated simply by understanding phishing and knowing how to deal with it.

Fraud Tip #2. Only Buy From Sellers With an Established Feedback Score

*Love or hate eBay's feedback system, but is has its purpose. By doing your due diligence you can weed out potentially fraudulent eBay sellers simply by reviewing their feedback score. Pay particular attention to the last 90 days and be sure read all the comments posted on the first 3 pages. A sellers feedback score will is increasingly important if you are purchasing a high ticket item. Fraud on eBay can be dramatically reduced by following this Fraud Tip.

Fraud Tip #3. Do Not Pay With Western Union

*The chance of Fraud on eBay has been reduced through eBay's own internal policing of buyer payment options. If you are going to pay for an item you purchase on eBay - always use PayPal as you are covered by PayPal's buyer protection program.

*Here is eBay's latest "Safe Payments Policy:

"Permitted on eBay.com: Sellers may offer to accept PayPal, credit cards including Mastercard/Visa /Amex/Discover, debit cards and bank electronic payments online for eBay purchases. Sellers may also offer to accept bank-to-bank transfers, often known as bank wire transfers or bank cash transfers. Sellers may accept COD (cash on delivery) or cash for in person transactions. Sellers may offer to accept payment through Certapay and Propay. Sellers may offer to accept personal checks, money orders, cashier's checks, certified checks and other negotiable instruments.

Not permitted on eBay.com: Sellers may not solicit buyers to mail cash. Sellers may not ask buyers to send cash through instant cash transfer services (non-bank, point-to-point cash transfers) such as Western Union or Moneygram. Sellers may not ask buyers to pay with Stormpay. Finally, sellers may not request payment through online payment methods not specifically permitted in this policy."

With regards to cash payments on eBay, "The U.S. Postal Service tells us it's unsafe, and now eBay is telling everyone that it is unsafe," said Matt Halprin, eBay's global policy VP. "So if a seller solicits or encourages offers to accept cash, [they are] encouraging unsafe payment methods and we do remove that seller's listing."

eBay Fraud, which accounts for only a small fraction of one percent of all transactions can be significantly be reduced by your use of PayPal.

Fraud Tip #4. Preventative Measures - Tips For Your Protection

*The IFCC (Internet Fraud Complaint Center) has an excellent website that includes a tips page where you will read about Internet Auction Fraud, Non-Delivery of Merchandise, Credit Card Fraud, Investment Fraud, Nigerian Letter Scam, and Business Fraud.

In a perfect world, everyone would be honest and trustworthy, but, unfortunately, there are those who will try to take advantage of others. The Internet provides tremendous opportunity - like anything else, use it wisely.
About the Author
Adam Ginsberg, international small biz and online expert, speaker & trainer, has published the #1 seller "How to Buy, Sell & Profit on eBay". Auction Sellers Tips here: Auction Sellers Tips Also: AdamGinsberg.com
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