A guide to safe trading on eBay.
Section 1.0 Intro
In this day and age the world of online shopping is unlimited, we have so many choices and payment options that for some of us can become a little confusing, worse still when we don’t understand that the person we are dealing with may not be who they claim to be its easy to fall victim to elaborate fraud on sites like eBay®. Granted even the lowest form of protection is offered on all eBay items, its still a limited amount of $400 (Standard protection.) minus a $25 processing fee. The above is available on most payment methods other than paypal, a warning here that payment by Western Union® or any such untraceable payment system is NOT covered under eBay’s standard protection system. Therefore only use payment methods which are covered, these include Bank deposits, Paypal(Extra protection available in some cases), Money orders, cheques.
Section 1.1: The Bank Deposit Dilemma
Keep in mind that while bank deposits are handy, once you transfer money it is usually NOT recoverable, it is a one-way process and is worsened by the fact that these deposits are made purely on the account and BSB numbers of the account you transfer money to.
That effectively means that I could say my bank account name was ‘John Doe’ but have the account numbers point to my account, which means I will get the money, the buyer has just been scammed and ‘John Doe’ doesn’t know any better!
This opens up a potential security hole for fraudsters to exploit and know that they do! Such holes are exploited on a daily basis on sites like eBay, what is more important though is that users of the eBay system are made aware of fraud so that they can spot a scam when they see one.
Section 1.2: Watch out for Phishing when you’re the fish!
Another reason why the above security hole in the bank deposit system is allowed to continue is due to phishing, and no this has nothing to do with fish, well if you like picture yourself (and all other buyers on ebay) as fish swimming in a big pond. The scammer as you guessed is the dirty fisherman trying desperately to bait you in by using emails which appear genuine, but are usually a means to steal you account or worse, identity. In the case of eBay such emails are constantly being sent out, but they don’t originate from eBay. The best defence here is always be on-guard, whenever eBay actually sends you an email it will always contain your registered name and your username. Also bear in mind that once you click a link in an email and the site is loaded in your browser, always pay attention to the address bar and ask yourself the question; Do I see ‘www.ebay.com’ in the address bar? Remember that ebay-com.com or any such derivation of ebay.com is NOT going to be the real eBay site.
Phishing is a problem for eBay because fraudsters will often be able to get into unsuspecting genuine account holders and use that account, list cheap items that are too good to be true, and exploit the bank deposit system as mentioned above. If they can do all that (and they can!) then they have just done some serious attempt at fraud, and they often catch a lot of fish, big ones too!
Section 1.3: Know Your Enemy
Ok so you’ve heard the bad parts, but how can I be safe from this? Well whenever you see items listed for a really cheap price, in a quantity that seams infinite, one-day listings. no paypal offered then your alarm bells should start ringing. If you have bought the item but are still weary about sending payment you can request contact information from the seller through the eBay system(Here) and give your seller a call to find out a few things, did the seller actually list that item? Also another method I use when going through bank deposit is to contact the bank branch and verify the account name to the account number, (The banks will do this for you) smart fraudsters will never use their own bank account so if the name is not matched to the account the bank representative will let you know.
Section 1.4: Paypal is your Pal
Remember that paypal payments offer a lot more protection than other payment methods (usually up to $1500 coverage) , they are instant which results in a faster shipping time, traceable and can be made using credit cards as well as bank accounts. Keep in mind that any thing you pay with on credit card can be traced, and in cases of fraud, reversed. Fraudsters almost always avoid using paypal because its not easy to always retrieve funds when you’re a scammer, this is because money sent to a paypal account will still be under paypal’s control until its sent to a bank account. Sending money from a paypal account to a bank account is not a quick process as it does take a few days during which it can be declined by paypal if an account is reported stolen of if a buyer reports a seller using a paypal account that they did not receive their item. Another thing to remember is that a seller must link at least one Credit card to their paypal account, now I don’t know about you, but if I was a fraudster I would have to be short a few brain cells to put my credit card (and everything that goes with it!!) on file with paypal. It would be the proverbial ‘clown-shoes’ to do so.
Section 1.4: Summary
In summary remember to watch your back, you’re in a big pond and although you enjoy swimming in it, there are other malicious individuals out there who attempt to make your pond a living hell through their fraud, and phishing attempts to lure in genuine users and exploit other in doing so. Know the warning signs, know how to spot a fake, if in doubt contact, if still in doubt then don’t buy it. Remember 1 day auctions with prices too good to be true, no paypal offered and requests to ‘send money fast’ are reason enough to be alarmed. Know your protection and which one you’re covered under with that last item you bought? Is it sufficient, if the worst were to happen would it do justice? Know how to spot a fake site?
Know your enemy, before he knows you!