Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Dangers of Selling on eBay

By: Dachary Carey

Selling on eBay can be highly profitable, but it can also be a dangerous prospect. If you regularly sell on eBay, look out for these common fraud schemes:

Paying More than an Item Is Worth

One of the oldest tricks in the book is a request to pay you more than the item is worth, with the provision that you'll send the excess funds back to the buyer when you ship the item. In these cases, the funds you receive are fraudulent, either in the form of a fraudulent money order or check, or a stolen credit card.

Within a few days, but after you've shipped the item, the bank tells you the check is fraudulent and you're left without the funds and without the item. You can appeal to PayPal or eBay, but if you didn't follow the steps for seller protection, you might be out of luck.

Only Use Approved Payment Methods

Because of the dangers of fraud and scams, it's important to only use approved payment methods when you sell on eBay. Use PayPal or to ensure the security of your transactions and to know you have protection in the event of fraud. If you use merchant accounts or other payment methods, eBay does not provide protection services and you may be out of luck if you get caught by a fraudulent transaction.

Watch out for Shill Bidders

In a real-world auction, a shill bidder is someone hired by the seller to drive up the price of an item. On eBay, a slightly more sophisticated version of this scam operates. Multiple shill bidders coordinate to drive the price of an item up, then withdraw their high bids at the last minute so a low bid wins the item.

For example, if one person bids $10 on the item, and the next person bids $400, no one else is going to bid on the item. Moments before the auction concludes, the $400 bid is withdrawn. You're left with a $10 bid on an item, and no other bidders. If you notice a drastic jump in bidding, do some research on your bidders to ensure they have good feedback and are legitimate buyers.

Unusual Requests

eBay fraud comes in many forms. If you get an unusual request from a buyer, or the buyer is located overseas, carefully verify the identity of your buyer and the legitimacy of the request. Make sure you follow all of eBay's seller protection policies. Look for bidders with good feedback to ensure you're not dealing with a fraudulent buyer. When in doubt, ask for verification or contact the eBay support team.

E-mail Phishing

Don't click on links in e-mails from eBay buyers. Use your eBay account to respond to questions to ensure you're not visiting a fraudulent Web site that will load viruses or keyloggers onto your computer. Some fraudsters send e-mails that look like they're coming from eBay, but if you click links contained in these e-mails, you'll actually be directed to a third-party Web site. There, you may have viruses or keyloggers loaded onto your computer, or you may be prompted to enter sensitive personal information to "verify" your account. Don't do it. These are the hallmarks of an identity-theft scam.

1 comment:

  1. Great post.

    Perhaps I can just add to this that the best way to guard against being ripped off by online sales or auctions of any kind, Craigslist and eBay included—and whether seller or buyer—is to use a *bona fide* online escrow company. Especially for pricier items like antiques, jewelry and autos. Although it does add some cost, it takes the uncertainty out of the transaction, and that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

    For my money, the best bona fide online escrow (and there seems to be ten fraudulent escrow sites for every bona fide one) is probably ( In fact, it’s the only one that eBay recommends, and is the only online escrow company that is licensed to provide escrow services all across the United States.

    Take care,

    Ulf Wolf