How to spot SPOOF (fake) eBay + PayPal phishing emails

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Spoof emails are a common occurrence these days and as an eBayer it is vital that you know how to spot one.

A ‘spoof’ or ‘phishing’ email is one which is designed to trick you into giving away private info, such as your eBay and paypal passwords. Fraudsters often send out these fake emails which claim to be from eBay or paypal in the hope that you will divulge your passwords and account info so they can steal your money, and use your account to con other unsuspecting ebayers. These emails are designed to look very convincing, but there are tell tale signs which can warn you that it is a fake, which I will detail below, and I will also provide some handy tips:

1. Who is it addressed to-
Many spoof emails start with “Dear eBay member” or “Dear valued Paypal customer”, or they may address you by your email address, such as “Dear xxxx@blah . com”, while a real eBay or Paypal email would ALWAYS address you by your full name registered with them.
A genuine eBay email, such as a question from a buyer would always have your registered name inserted at the top of the email and would read “eBay sent this message to YOUR NAME HERE (your user ID)” so if I got a message from a buyer through eBay, it would be “eBay sent this message to I J (gusswho)”. Similarly, Paypal will always address you by your full name when writing an email to you. If the email does not contain your full name and addresses you by “Dear PayPal Customer” or something along those lines it is a SPOOF.

2.  What is the spelling like-
The majority of spoof emails are riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, this is due to the scammers relatively poor knowledge of English, and is a sure giveaway to the fact that an email is a fake.

3. Always check where the email came from, although email headers can be deceiving-
The sensible thing to do is check that the email header reports that the email came from eBay and not a dodgy website, but even if the header reports the email is from eBay, NEVER rely on the from: field to determine where an email came from. The email header can easily be faked into saying from or in a matter of seconds, so never assume an email is safe even if it claims to come from eBay or paypal.

4. Is the same message in ‘my messages’?
If an email originates from eBay, a copy will always appear in the ‘my messages’ folder in your eBay. If you receive a suspicious email from eBay, it is always best to login to the eBay site (NOT through any links in the email) and check if the same email is available in your ‘my messages’. If it is not, it’s a spoof.

5. NEVER EVER click on links in an email-
If Paypal or eBay need you to update your information or contact a buyer, they will tell you this when you log on. Do not click on any links in emails, as they can also be faked to redirect you to a ‘lookalike’ eBay site which will steal your details.

6. Get a browser buddy program-
such as spoofstick, the netcraft toolbar or the Google anti phishing toolbar to alert you when you enter a site designed to steal your information. These programs will alert you most of the time when you access a phishing website, but they are not 100% effective, so you must also be alert when accessing any email links. (Sorry eBay won’t allow me to post links to them, use a search engine to find them instead)

7. Send suspected spoof emails to eBay and paypal for confirmation they are fakes-
You can send suspected spoof emails to and and they will email back to confirm if your suspicions were correct.

8. If you do click links-
Make sure the website URL always starts with https:// followed by either ebay or paypal .com/ , anything else and it is probably a fake.

Bear those points in mind, and you should be pretty well equipped to sniff out spoofs and keep your personal information safe. If you have any comments/suggestions please contact me by clicking onto my feedback page and then clicking onto “contact member”

Thank you for reading! :o)

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