I’m often asked how to make sure I’m protected when using eBay. Most of the time this line of questioning comes from friends and family, but the answers will benefit anyone.
So, whether you are new to eBay or if you already have an account, here are some steps to ensure that you are as protected as you can be.
- Set up an email account which will be used by you exclusively for your eBay/PayPal accounts. Don’t use this email address for anything else!
- Set up a strong password for your eBay/PayPal accounts. Strong passwords are eight (8) characters long and are a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols from the ASCII coding standard. (I.E. @bcd3Fg*)
- NEVER write down or give out this password to anyone. Yes, that means absolutely no one!
- Change this password every 30-45 days. The more often you use the password, the more likely it is someone will figure it out, or hack one of these accounts.
- Do not ever reply to emails requesting that you update your username, password, or bank account info! This is a very common scam. Some emails will even have a link to a website that looks just like an authentic eBay or PayPal site. DON’T BE FOOLED! This email didn’t come from eBay or PayPal. They will never ask you to update your account information in an email with a link to a site. If you are unsure, open your internet browser and manually type in the web address to eBay (http://www.ebay.com) or PayPal (http://www.paypal.com) to log in. If eBay or PayPal needs you to update your information you will be notified about it when you log in!
- Do not link you PayPal account to a bank account used for day to day purchases/payments. If there is a dispute of any sort, the money from your bank account is stuck in limbo, until it is resolved. Also, in the instance of a dispute, you can not decline decisions made by PayPal. If the funds for the disputed eBay purchase came from a savings or checking account you use on a regular basis, this may upset your balances. It is best if you fund your eBay/PayPal transactions with a major credit card so that you can always decline the charges with the credit card vendor if there is an issue. If you must link a bank account to your PayPal account, set up an account just for your eBay/PayPal transactions!
- Never give anyone your linked bank or credit card account information!
- Link your PayPal account to your eBay account. Set up your eBay account so that any listing and/or seller fees are charged to your PayPal account.
- Confirm your eBay/PayPal accounts. Both eBay and PayPal have a set of instructions to validate the information you use to set up your account, is complete and valid. This is for your protection and the protection of people who purchase from you.
- Only buy from Sellers with a 90% or higher feedback rating. The eBay rating system is your best friend when making a purchase. Read the feedback given by other buyers and see what issues may have been reported by others. See how many transactions have been performed by that seller. Do all of this before bidding from a seller.
- Do not buy from Sellers who only accept Cash, Check, Cashiers Check or Bank Drafts.
- Only buy from Sellers who accept direct Credit Card Purchases and PayPal. However make sure they are a reputable Seller and that the are confirmed both on the eBay and PayPal systems, before making a single bid on one of their products.
- Only buy GIA Certified diamonds or other jewels. The Gemological Institute of America is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls.
- Only buy precious metals if you can have it tested and returned if it is fake. It is real easy to be fooled by pictures of jewelry or other items claiming to be platinum, titanium, gold, silver, bronze or copper.
- Beware of Knockoffs! Appliances, Clocks, Clothing, Cologne, Computer Parts, Electronics, Hand Bags, Jewelry, Knives, Shoes, Vehicle Parts, Watches, and just about everything else, could be PRICELESS or priceless. What I’m telling you is research what you are looking at, to find ways to identify the real from the fake, before you make a single bid.
- Find out where the item is made, and who it is made by! This may be the easiest way to spot a generic or fake. Swiss Army Knives and Watches are made in Victorinox, Switzerland. The original Puma Knives were all made in Solgen, Germany. The original Longaberger Baskets and the good products they continue to sell are all made in the USA. Apply this principle to everything you buy. Research the item you want to buy, by going to the manufacturer’s site and reading up on these types of details. Then ask the seller questions about the item they have for sale.
- Items on eBay are presented like cars on a used car lot. Everything is over exaggerated. Think of the used car salesman’s terminology. Every eBay item is a mint car (even though it’s been wrecked), with a leather interior that looks new (even though it is dry and cracked), with good rubber (almost bald or out of balance wearing), new brakes (never checked them), great fuel mileage (it should get better than 15 MPG, but it is in how you drive it) and well maintained (the dealer did everything to hide any damage or unmaintained issues)! Nothing is almost new! It is either new or it isn’t. Pay attention to how the item is listed. Read it out loud. If you sound like a used car salesman when reading the listing, you need to be skeptical.
- Books, Digital Art/Images, Movies, Music, Photographs and Software are all subject to complicated copyright and trademark laws.
It can be hard to spot an illegal duplicate, a fake or pirated version.
As a general rule books should be bound like a real book, with an ISBN number and barcode. Even legitimate eBooks will have an ISBN number.
The authenticity of Digital Art/Images can be very difficult to verify. The artist who made/produced the Art/Image is the original owner. Most copies are only legal for the original purchaser. So, if the person who is selling the Digital Art/Images is not the artist, it may be illegal. Check with the artist before buying something like this.
Just about any Movie or Music that is for sale as a download (through eBay), you can bet is illegal.
The photographer is the original owner of any photograph taken. So for questions about a photograph, contact the original photographer.
Software is another tricky issue. Many things can make software illegal, but that doesn’t mean that the seller you found on eBay is selling software illegally. In many instances it is perfectly legal to buy old or previously owned software from the original owner. To make sure, contact the manufacturer of the software and ask them about how their license for that specific software title, stipulates the transfer of ownership.
Definitely read the The OEM Software Scam I wrote about yesterday.
- If a deal is too good to be true, it is!
- Make sure any item you win is shipped with a tracking number. It is way too easy to take your money and then tell you the item was shipped, even if you never get it. Who is at fault here? Can you prove the seller did or didn’t send the item?
Following these steps will help ensure that you are protected while taking advantage of the bargains you can get on eBay.