I have been buying and selling items on eBay for over 13 years and in the process have fallen victim to, or narrowly avoided, quite a few scams. Here are some of the most prevalent eBay scams as well as some tips on how to avoid them.
One of the biggest eBay scams is selling counterfeit merchandise. Art and I used to run a professional golf shop and once a customer brought in a Taylormade driver he had bought on eBay. He wanted Art to change out the shaft because it was really whippy. Art took one look at the club and saw that it was counterfeit. The club head was the wrong shape, the graphics were obviously faked and the shaft was unknown. Our customer had paid $100 (less than 1/3 the price of a new club) for what was essentially useless.
A good way to avoid this scam is to remember this one caveat “If the price looks to good to be true, it probably is.” If a “brand-new” top-of-the-line whatever is selling for pennies compared to others, it is probably a fake. Also, look at the photos the seller has posted. If they are stock photos of the merchandise, then email them asking for more detailed photos if you are still interested.
Something You Don’t Need
The original Xbox 360 did not come with built-in wireless, but required a separate wireless adapter that was only manufactured by Microsoft. Tooling around on eBay one day looking for used ones, Bud came across a seller who promised that his product was a workaround for the adapter. Reading all the specs, it looked good so we went ahead and paid the money. What arrived was a piece of circuitry and directions that would not work with Bud’s Xbox 360 (I wish I had taken a picture at the time so you could see how ridiculous this was). We filed a complaint with eBay and also sent the seller an email and were lucky enough to get our money back, but most are not so lucky.
The best way to avoid this is to not trust anyone you don’t know with a “workaround” or “hack” or whatever they are selling.
If you receive an email from eBay telling you that something important is happening with your account, BEWARE!! Often this is an email from a scammer, who is trying to steal your user name and password.
Avoid this scam by only logging in to eBay by typing http://www.ebay.com directly into your browser. If you really have a problem with your account, there will be more information in the internal “messages” portion of your account.
Fraudulent Payment Notification
Similar to phishing, you will receive a notification from Paypal or eBay saying that you have received a payment to your account. This is either an attempt to steal your information, or an attempt buy a buyer to receive your item without actually getting payment.
Again, only sign in via the url or your bookmarks, never by clicking a link in an email. If the buyer has actually paid, it will be listed in your account.
It can be a lot harder to tell if merchandise you purchase on eBay is stolen. Just remember that if it is stolen, the police can confiscate it from you (depending on your jurisdiction) and you will have a hard (if not impossible) time getting your money back from the seller (who is now in prison or in hiding).
Remember,”if the price is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.” Also, check the seller’s feedback and make sure they are not just an “overnight” success with thousands of positive feedbacks acquired in just a couple of months. Look for sellers who have been around for awhile. Another good reminder is to only pay via Paypal or, if a big ticket item, C.O.D. Do not pay through Western Union or other third-party websites suggested by the seller. These do not have the buyer protection that Paypal offers.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid some of the worst eBay scams, but if not, remember that eBay has a resolution center where you can bring most of the problems you have. They are usually fairly quick (within 2 weeks) to rule and if the ruling is in your favor, you will hopefully get your money back.