Scams On The Rise! eBay Scams To Watch Out For

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eBay is one of the pioneers of online marketplaces, offering consumers a platform for buying and selling a wide array of products. However, like any online platform, eBay is not immune to scams and fraudulent activities. This guide will explore common eBay scams, signs to watch out for, how to protect yourself, and cybersecurity products to enhance your online security.

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What is eBay?

eBay is an online marketplace that allows individuals and businesses to buy and sell a variety of goods, including electronics, clothing, collectibles, and more. With millions of users and transactions taking place daily, eBay offers a convenient platform for finding unique items and great deals.

Is eBay legit? Can you get scammed on eBay?

Yes, eBay is a legitimate and well-established online marketplace that has been operating since its founding in 1995. However, while eBay itself is a legitimate platform, it's essential for users to exercise caution and be aware of potential scams or fraudulent activities that may occur on the site. This includes being vigilant when making purchases, verifying the credibility of sellers, and using secure payment methods for transactions.

Additionally, eBay has policies and measures in place to protect users from fraud and ensure a safe and secure shopping experience. By following eBay's guidelines, practicing safe online shopping habits, and being aware of potential risks, users can enjoy the benefits of buying and selling on eBay with confidence. However, it's essential to remain informed of trending scams, and stay cautious in order to protect yourself from potential scams or fraudulent activities that may occur on any online marketplace.

Signs of an eBay scam

There are a few signs that provide users with the first indication that an eBay scam has occurred, or is occurring. For example:

  • Unbelievably low prices that seem too good to be true.
  • Requests for payment outside of eBay's secure payment system.
  • Poor communication or evasiveness from the seller.
  • Suspicious or unfamiliar email addresses or messages from the seller.
  • Pressure to complete transactions quickly or outside of eBay's official channels.

Common eBay scams to watch out for

There are a few ways in which eBay scams may be carried out:

  • Non-delivery scams: Sellers may fail to deliver purchased items after receiving payment, leaving buyers empty-handed and out of pocket.
  • Counterfeit goods: Some sellers may list counterfeit or fake items, misrepresenting them as genuine products to unsuspecting buyers.
  • Payment scams: Buyers or sellers may attempt to scam each other by using fraudulent payment methods, such as fake checks or stolen credit card information.
  • Phishing scams: Scammers may send fake phishing emails or messages impersonating eBay or legitimate sellers, attempting to trick users into revealing personal or financial information.

ebay PayPal scams: How can these happen?

PayPal scams on eBay occur when scammers exploit the eBay platform and PayPal payment system to deceive users and steal money or personal information. These scams often involve manipulating buyers or sellers into sending payments outside of eBay's secure payment system or tricking them into believing they have received payments when they have not. Some common types of eBay PayPal scams might include:

  • Fake payment confirmation: Scammers may send fake emails or messages impersonating PayPal, indicating that a payment has been made for an eBay purchase. The message will typically instruct the seller to ship the item, but in reality, no payment has been made.
  • ‘Overpayment scam’: In this scam, a scammer posing as a buyer sends a payment for an item purchased on eBay but overpays the seller. The scammer then requests that the seller refund the excess amount via a method outside of eBay's platform, such as a wire transfer or gift card. The initial payment is later found to be fraudulent, leaving the seller at a loss.
  • Unauthorized payment dispute: Scammers may use stolen PayPal accounts or hacked eBay accounts to make purchases. After receiving the item, the scammer files a dispute with PayPal, claiming that the transaction was unauthorized or that the item was not as described. As a result, the seller may lose both the item and the payment.
  • Phishing scams: Scammers may send phishing emails or messages pretending to be from eBay or PayPal, asking users to log in to their accounts to resolve an issue or claim a refund. These fake websites are designed to steal users' login credentials and personal information.

eBay scams - seller disrepute

eBay seller scams can occur in a variety of ways:

  • ‘Non-delivery’ scam: A seller lists an item for sale on eBay, receives payment from the buyer, but fails to ship the item. The seller may become unresponsive or provide false tracking information, leaving the buyer without the purchased item and out of pocket.
  • ‘Counterfeit goods’ scam: Some sellers may list counterfeit or fake items on eBay, misrepresenting them as genuine products to unsuspecting buyers. This can lead to buyers receiving low-quality or counterfeit goods instead of the authentic items they expected.
  • Fee avoidance: Sellers may attempt to avoid eBay fees by conducting transactions outside of eBay's platform, such as completing sales through direct messaging or redirecting buyers to make payments via alternative methods.

Most notorious is the ‘shill bidding scam’, whereby sellers artificially inflate the bidding price of their items by creating fake accounts or enlisting others to place fake bids. This deceives genuine buyers into paying more for the item than it's worth. A recent study revealed that shill bidding is common as it is difficult to detect and prevent; however, there are certain resources available to online auction companies to help recognize these scams, and tech companies are working to develop better algorithms based on machine learning that will be able to identify fraudulent sellers.

eBay scams - buyer issues

Scams can be conducted by buyers as well as by sellers. These are some potential buyer scams to watch out for:

  • ‘Payment reversal’ scam: A buyer makes a purchase on eBay, receives the item from the seller, and then files a dispute or chargeback with their payment provider, claiming that the transaction was unauthorized or that the item was not as described. This can result in the seller losing both the item and the payment.
  • ‘Item not received’ scam: A buyer claims that they did not receive the item they purchased from the seller, even if it was delivered successfully. This can occur when the buyer falsely denies receiving the item to obtain a refund or replacement.
  • Returns fraud: Some buyers may engage in return fraud by purchasing items on eBay, using them temporarily, and then returning them to the seller for a refund. The returned items may be damaged or replaced with inferior substitutes, resulting in financial losses for the seller.
  • Feedback extortion: Buyers may threaten to leave negative feedback or file disputes against sellers unless they provide additional goods or services not included in the original transaction. This can coerce sellers into complying with unreasonable demands to avoid reputational damage.

How to get money back from eBay scams, including gift card scammers

If you've fallen victim to an eBay scam, including a gift card scam, it's essential to take immediate action to minimize further losses and attempt to recover your funds. Here are steps you can take to potentially get your money back:

  • Contact eBay Customer Support immediately to report the incident. Provide them with details of the fraudulent transaction, including any communications with the scammer and evidence of the scam.
  • File a dispute or claim through eBay's Resolution Center. If you made the payment through eBay's secure payment system or PayPal, you may be eligible to file a dispute or claim to request a refund. Log in to your eBay or PayPal account, navigate to the transaction in question, and follow the steps to file a dispute or claim. Provide all relevant details and documentation to support your claim.
  • If you paid with a credit card, contact your card issuer to dispute the charges.
  • Report the scam to relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • If the eBay scam involved a gift card, you will need to contact the gift card issuer: If you purchased eBay gift cards to make the payment, contact the gift card issuer immediately to report the scam. Provide them with the details of the fraudulent transaction and request assistance in blocking or canceling the gift cards to prevent further unauthorized use. Some gift card issuers may be able to provide refunds or assistance in resolving fraudulent transactions.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, keep a close eye on your bank account, credit card statements, and PayPal account for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized charges or fraudulent activity to your financial institution or PayPal immediately.

If you are unable to resolve the issue through eBay, PayPal, or the gift card issuer, you may consider seeking legal advice or assistance from a consumer protection attorney. They can provide guidance on your rights and options for recourse.

How to prevent being scammed on eBay

Of course, preventing eBay scams from happening in the first place is the best course of action. Follow the tips below to maintain awareness and security where your eBay online transitions are concerned:

  • Use eBay's secure payment system for transactions.
  • Research sellers' feedback and ratings before making a purchase.
  • Avoid deals that seem too good to be true or involve payment outside of eBay.
  • Be cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments in messages from unknown sources.
  • Verify payment details directly through your PayPal account rather than clicking on links in emails or messages.
  • Keep your eBay and PayPal accounts secure with strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Trust your instincts: If you suspect you have been targeted by a scam, report it to eBay and PayPal immediately and seek assistance from their customer support teams.

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Cybersecurity products for eBay users

In order to maintain your vigilance, whether buying or selling online, there are several cybersecurity products and services that you should be using:

  • Online security protection: Use the Online Security browser extension for identity protection when surfing online, including the dark web monitoring feature that alerts you if your details have been leaked online.

  • Antivirus and anti-malware software: Protect your device from malware and phishing attempts by using a next-generation antivirus like Rav Endpoint Protection.

  • Virtual private network (VPN): Encrypt your internet connection to safeguard your online activities and personal information, using a VPN such as RAV VPN.

  • Password manager: Securely store and manage your passwords to prevent unauthorized access to your eBay account.

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA for an additional layer of security when logging into your eBay account.

Have you been scammed? Check your personal info is safe.

So while eBay offers a convenient platform for buying and selling goods online, users should remain vigilant and aware of potential scams and fraudulent activities. By staying informed, using secure payment methods, and implementing cybersecurity best practices, you can shop safely and confidently on eBay. For more information on cybersecurity best practices, visit