Trading Safely on eBay
Trading on eBay can be safe and fun - however, just like in real life, not everything always runs smoothly.
The intention of this guide is to identify potential problems that can occur as a result of trading on eBay, as well as how to best avoid or resolve them.
After many years of interacting on eBay's Discussion Boards, as well as buying and selling on eBay under my user id: epodcentral, I strongly believe in eBay's Community Values. If all transactions - even those that you may percieve are going wrong - are dealt with keeping these in mind, they can usually be successfully resolved.
Buying on eBay:
When buying an item, ensure that you,
- Check the sellers feedback comments. Be wary if there are various recent negative and neutral comments.
- Check how much postage is if it is not mentioned in the listing. Some sellers will charge a lot more than what it actually costs for postage and packaging materials, which can lead to a less than positive transaction if you find this out after you are the winning bidder.
- Check which other items the seller has sold in the past by clicking through the items in their feedback. This is essential mainly when you are looking at buying a high value item, because sometimes legitimate eBay accounts are taken over by scammers. These scammers use an eBay members account with lots of positive feedback to sell non-existant high value items in order to not cause suspicion. You can read more about account theft and protecting your account later in this guide.
- Do not purchase an item outside of eBay no matter how much you want it or how much of a bargain it appears to be. If you do this, you will have no protection from eBay. You can still go to the Police, but it just is not worth it as you may never get the item that you have spent your hard earned cash on.
- Do not mail cash, or send money via Western Union or any other payment service which does not comply with the eBay's safe payment criteria.
- If you are purchasing a brand name item, ask questions to try to determine it's authenticity. People do list fakes on eBay claiming to be the real thing. If the seller is unable to confirm authenticity, it is best not to bid, and also to report the listing to eBay so that they can review it and take appropriate action.
- Do not use an escrow service just because it is recommended by the seller. Believe it or not, there are fraudulent sites claiming to be escrow services! You will send your money, and lose your money if you put it through one of these. Read eBay's escrow page for heaps more information, including the link to the only escrow site recommended by eBay Australia. Be sure to contine to reading this guide to find out more about these fake websites.
- Check that your mailing address is correct in my eBay. There are heaps of other things you can do in the "my eBay" section of the site, so it is worth checking out if you don't use it much.
- You can request a sellers contact information and call them if you wish. I don't personally recommend this as a way to find out if a seller is genuine, but it is handy to know that there is an option to do this if need be.
- Ensure that your email address is valid. If your email address is not valid, the seller will not be able to contact you!
Completing the transaction:
After buying your item, if there is a problem,
- Send a friendly email to the seller to express your concerns. Please be very mindful that emails can be taken the wrong way, so be very careful with how your email is worded. Most importantly do not accuse the seller of being dishonest or trying to rip you off! Whatever has happened which has left you unhappy, may have truly been unintentional. Always give a seller the opportunity to correct any mistake that they may have made. A good seller will always be more than happy to ensure that a transaction is completed successfully. Most importantly, do not think the worst first up if things do not go as planned. There are plenty of options available to you to help work it out, and remember that humans do make mistakes and that you are dealing with a real person!
- If you have not recieve an item which has been posted, let the seller know, but also check with your Post Office. Sometimes packages are incorrectly addressed and sit at the Post Office for a week or two before they are sent back to the address on the back of the package. Also, check the address you provided the seller.
- If you recieve no communication from the seller, go back and check their feedback. If there are lots of negatives, or if the member has become "not a registered user", there may be cause for concern, but remember that you still have options which will hopefully lead to a successful resolution of this transaction. Whilst there are people who do intentionally defraud people, be aware there are also people who may have simply had an unexpected incident happen to them, causing them to be unable to operate on eBay ie. car accident, death in the family, and so forth. Remember that the people you are trading with on eBay are real people too. Also remember to apply eBay's Community Values when communicating with the seller.
- Double check the listing to see whether there are any timeframes given in regards to shipping times. Have you given the seller enough time to get the item to you? Australia Post delivery times are recommendations only, they are not guaranteed. Remember that most sellers do not post items out until your payment has cleared - this can take around 1-3 days dependant on which bank you and the seller are with. Australia Post do not deliver on weekends or public holidays, so take that into account as well. Also, if the seller is overseas, remember that mail can take up to three months to get to Australia!
- Check your email is not sending emails from the seller into your spam folder.
- If you do not hear from the seller, you can request the sellers contact information. If the seller has become "not a registered user", you need to contact eBay to request the sellers contact information. Please note that the sellers contact information may be fake, so you may get their information but not be able to call them.
If the item is not as described, or if you did not recieve the item at all,
- If you paid by Paypal, go to Paypal to make a complaint.
- If you paid by credit card, contact your credit card company. You may be able to get your money back.
- Begin eBay's item not received or significantly not as Described process here.
- Once you have completed the above applicable options, you may be able to proceed with a claim in eBay's Fraud Protection Program.
- If it is a high value item, you may also wish to contact the Police. If one officer says that they can not assist because it is a civil matter, please try another officer. eBay DOES assist Police with any information that they may require.
When selling on eBay, be particularly aware of the following, particularly if you are selling high value items:
- Be aware of the various limitations that you can place in regards to those who can bid on your auction through the Bidder Block page.
- Be aware of the steps to follow on eBay's Defrauded Seller page in the instance that a buyer claims that an item has not arrived.
- If an international (or sometimes Australian) member wants to pay for a high value item with Paypal, be very careful as this may result in a chargeback. IE. The person may be paying for the item with a stolen credit card. When this purchase is discovered by the credit card company, you will lose the money that was paid to you and be out of pocket with no item, and no money!
- If the person has lots of feedback but there's something that does not seem right, the account may have been a victim of account theft. The scammers use the high feedback to hide behind and cause less suspicion when making a high dollar purchase with Paypal. Again, this could lead to chargeback. More information on account theft is in this guide.
- Paypal does offer some protection, but be very careful as it does not necessarily mean that you would get money from a chargeback back in your possession.
- Remember that no fraud protection is available to sellers from eBay. You need to use your own personal judgement. If you are unsure of what to do, make a post on the appropriate eBay Discussion Board and more experienced members will be eager to offer you advice. Please do not put the other members user id into the post, as this would violate eBay's Board Usage Policy.
- Whilst no fraud protection or mediation is available on eBay's behalf, any attempts from buyers to pay for items with fraudulent funds should be reported to eBay so that the appropriate action can be taken against the members in question.
- eBay will assist Police with any information that they may require, so it is recommended to report this matter to the Police.
Protecting your information and identity online:
- If you recieve an email claiming to be from eBay, or your bank, or another bank, or any other business you may or may not be involved in asking to provide or update your details - DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IN THE EMAIL to update your details. This is a well known scam where people pretend to be eBay (or various other companies). They ask or offer various things in order to try to get information from you. Sometimes it is just a request to update your details, other times it can be an invitation to enter a fake competition with a non-existant prize. When people click through to the link, it will LOOK like the eBay site, but it is just a clever copy. The information collected by these scammers is usually used to defraud both yourself AND other people as well. A dead giveaway can often be the language used in these emails (lots of grammatical errors), as well as the sort of information that is requested on the site ie. various banking details and passwords, as well as eBay username and password.
- Ensure that if it is an eBay related email that it is forwarded to eBay for them to review. If you think that it may be a legitimate email from eBay, do not click on the link to update your details, simply go to your my eBay and update your details. Also, be sure to report the email you recieved to eBay so that they can take appropriate action if necessary.
- If you have already entered your information into one of these sites, change your username and password asap, as well as contacting your credit card provider/s if you also gave out banking information. More information of what you should do in this situation can be found on eBay's securing your account page. Live help should be contacted immediately. A link to live help can be found in the "securing your account" link above.
- When accounts are taken over by scammers, they will usually immediately list a lot of high value items. Because of the high feedback, some buyers would not think twice about buying from them. This is why it is so important to check feedback to see if this is what the seller usually sells. For example, if they usually sell kids clothes, the likelyhood of them listing 40 plasma televisions - although possible - is highly unlikely. If you are browsing eBay and suspect an eBay user has become a victim of account theft, please contact eBay to ensure that the appropriate action is taken quickly.
- The eBay Toolbar is a feature introduced by eBay to assist you in protecting your account information and alert you to what could possibly be fraudulent websites and much more. Best of all, it is free!
Further information and assistance can be found at:
- eBay Australia's security centre.
- eBay Australia's Law enforcement & third party resources.
- eBay Australia - Prohibited & Restricted items.
- eBay Australia Workshop - Paypal Chargebacks.
- eBay Australia Workshop - Trading Safely on eBay.
- eBay Australia Workshop - Chat with eBay Australia's Trust & Safety Director.
- eBay Australia Workshop - Item Not Recieved process.
- eBay Australia discussion board thread - Hijack Hunters
- eBay Australia - Member to Member Help discussion board.
- eBay Australia - Paypal discussion board.
That concludes my guide - I do hope that I have not scared anyone too much as it certainly was not my intention. It pains me to see people telling their stories of how they got defrauded on eBay as eBay really IS an awesome place to buy and sell. All you need to do to have a fun and safe experience on eBay is apply the above hints and tips with a little commonsense!
If you found this review helpful, please click on the "yes" button below.
If you did not find this guide helpful, please contact me to let me know how I can improve it.
Thanks! Epod :)