With over 5 million auctions running at any given time, eBay is by far the most popular online auction site in the world.
Unfortunately with online auctions accounting for the vast majority of online fraud, eBay has become a home, not only to the honest trader, but to thousands of online thieves and scam artists as well.
The following articles are not provided to discourage users from using eBay. Instead these articles are meant to keep Internet users aware of the various scams present, and will hopefully prevent readers from falling victim to these scams.
Wether you are a newbie or seasoned veteran trader we all can fall fowl of a scam, the criminal fraternity that operate on auction sites are always coming up with new sophisticated ways in trying to con you. Their main objective is always trying to get your money or goods, then dissapear without trace.
How to Reduce the Risk of Being Scammed:
Though there is no sure way to prevent yourself from being a victim of fraud (especially where online auctions are concerned). However, the following measures can be taken to significantly reduce you chances of becoming a scammer's next victim.
1. PRIOR TO BIDDING
Check The Seller's FeedBack
Always remember to check a seller's feedback rating before placing a bid, the feedback rating is your most useful tool in trying to determine whether a seller is legitimate or not. You should be wary of sellers with low feedback, no feedback, or excessive negative feedback, especially in regards too high priced items.
Ask The Seller Questions
This is not only useful in answering whatever questions you might have, but it can also give you an idea of what type of communication you can expect from the seller as well (is he/she fast, slow, detailed, vague, helpful, poor, rude, etc.). Remember, never place your bid until all of your questions have been answered.
Know Your Item
Make sure you know what you are bidding on before you place a bid. You should always know exactly what you are bidding on, including its relative value before placing your bid. Don't always trust the seller's description, it may seem like a deal if the seller sells you a clock for £20, that's worth £50, but not if you can go to your local shop and buy the same thing for £10.
Agree to and accept Seller's Terms
Remember the seller sets the terms of the auction. If you do not agree with the seller's terms, you shouldn't bid on the item. Don't expect the seller to change the terms just for you, simply because you're the highest bidder (If the seller only sells locally and you live internationally, you can only bid if the seller agrees to let you bid before the auction is over.)
Know Shipping Costs
Make sure you agree to shipping as well. If you think a seller should ship a different way, or is overcharging for shipping, you must ask him/her beforehand if they will ship another way. If you and the seller can't agree on shipping then don't place your bid.
2. AFTER PLACING YOUR BID
Obtain The Seller's Contact Information
The very first thing you should do after placing your bid is copy down any and all of the seller's contact information. This can be obtained by visiting Find a Member
If the user is ever unregistered or blocked from eBay, either before or during the transaction you will be unable to obtain his contact information. Therefore it is better to have it as early in the transaction as possible. Remember, you should always have a way (other than email) to contact your seller.
Set Your Personal Limit
Decide beforehand the maximum amount that you are willing to pay for the item, and stick to it. Don't get caught up in the heat of the moment, only to end up paying a lot more money then you originally intended.
3. AFTER WINNING THE AUCTION
Verify the Seller's Contact Information
You should try to verify the seller's contact information before sending payment. Make sure you keep an eye out for any inaccuracies. (If a seller's contact information were to state his location to be somewhere in Europe, yet his auctions claim his location to be somewhere in the United States; there may be some cause for concern.)
NOTE: If a seller's contact information is at all fraudulent, you have no further obligations to complete the transaction. Furthermore the majority of scam artists use phony contact information in conducting their scams. Discrepancies in contact information should be reported to eBay Help: Contact Us
Send Traceable Payment (When Possible):
After confirming that the seller has a valid address, you should prepare to send payment. Whenever possible you should pay via a protected form of payment. Some forms of protected payment are:
Credit Cards: If you do not receive your item, or if it is not as described, and the seller refuses to correct the matter you have the right to initiate a credit card chargebacks. In many cases all of the funds can be recovered.
If protected forms of payment are not available, you should still try and have payment sent via some traceable means, these could include:
Online Electronic Payments This includes services such as billpoint and paypal.com. These services keep a record of a transaction and will try to assist you if any funds are lost.
NEVER USE WESTERN UNION OR SIMILAR SERVICES TO PAY FOR AUCTIONS.
These services are meant to be used between two parties who know each other personally. Western Union is not safe for auction payments, and I would estimate that at least 9 out of 10 sellers who only accept Western Union for payment are committing fraud.
Secondly, After the auction closes, sellers are required to ship the merchandise within the time frame designated during the auction or, if no time frame is specified, within 30 days. If a seller can't meet the shipping commitment, he/she must give the buyer an opportunity to cancel the order for a full refund or agree to the new shipping date. Sellers are completely responsible for an items safe delivery whether or not insurance is purchased.
Leave FeedBack Only When The Transaction is Complete:
A seller's most important resource is his/her feedback. You should never leave feedback until the transaction is completely finished. This means either both parties are satisfied or one (or both) parties refuses to participate any further in the transaction.
Often if you leave negative feedback too early the other party may become reluctant to assist you any further in the matter.
I have put this guide together to try and prevent you from having negative experiences. If you read this information I have provided hopefully you will definitely benefit from it. So make a difference by voting YES below and help others to see this advice by making it visible to others, which will hopefully make eBay a safer place to buy and sell.