Do You Know the Warning Signs of eBay Scams?

My husband and I enjoy playing board games and cards. I have noticed a significant different in our approach. He likes to sit down and read the rules thoroughly first—even multi-page booklets—while I am impatient to start having fun and just want to learn as I play. Unfortunately, the “know as you go” approach can hurt you.

Especially when you’re bidding on an online auction site like eBay. I decided to take some time this week to educate myself, using a great article on the eBay guide section about online auction safety. Here is what I learned:

For Buyers

1. Know the product…is it authentic or a cheap knock-off?  

2. Don’t use e-mail addresses that are included in the text section of postings; don’t click unknown links. Send questions via the “Ask Seller A Question” option.

3. Short duration sales may raise a red flag. There are some good reasons to sell quickly, but this may also set you up for a hit-and-run seller. 

4. If the sale is supposedly in the United States, make sure the bid amount is in American dollars. Why would someone in Texas convert your bid to Euros? 

5. Are the photos stock pictures from the company website or original photos of the item? If you’ve seen the exact same picture in other auctions, this may be a red flag. Does the photo’s background look like a store where the person just went in and started taking pictures? 

6. Specify your category. Be aware that scammers often post items in obscure places.  

7. Payment method can tip you off to a scam. Never wire money during these transactions. Familiarize yourself with PayPal’s safety link information.   

8. There are fake eBay and PayPal sites that attempt to steal your login information. If a URL does not start with “https” (the “s” is the important part) it is not a secure site. And some second-chance offers featuring hot-links may be scams.

As the article says, remember that when you bid in an online auction, you are doing business with total strangers. Most people are decent and honest, but some aren’t. For additional and more in-depth information, please refer to the original article. And good luck!

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.