How Can I Protect Myself from eBay Seller Fraud?

In the next few sections, I’ll cover a few of the most popular ways that eBay buyers can protect themselves from dishonest sellers. You can read the complete details about eBay’s trust and security methods by visiting www.eBay.com then clicking the “services” link at the top of the home page.

Check the eBay Seller’s Feedback Score
The seller’s feedback score is probably the most important thing to check before bidding on an eBay item. When viewing any eBay item listing, to the immediate right of the seller’s eBay name, you will see a number shown between parentheses. This number is the eBay user’s feedback rating that has been calculated from performance scores given by other other buyers and sellers. Click on the feedback score to display a breakdown of how the seller has been rated by other eBay users for the past few months.
In general, a feedback score is raised one point for each good (positive) transaction and it is reduced by one point for each bad (negative) transaction. A buyer or seller can also receive a zero feedback rating for a neutral transaction. Each feedback transaction is accompanied by a short comment related to the feedback.
Theoretically, eBay users with higher feedback scores are more trustworthy than users with low or negative feedback scores. You will probably want to discount the seller’s performance from more than several months ago. Instead, place more importance on how how a seller has been behaving lately according to others who have recently transacted business with him.

Watch for auction “tip-offs”
Be wary of auction listings that have no photos or use stock photos from a manufacturer’s website. While stock photos do a nice job of showing what an item looks like, a stock picture is not an image of the specific item up for bid. If it is used, the stock picture will not show any scratches, dings, wear, or other potential problems with the item. If you see a stock photo you should ask seller questions about the condition that are not addressed in the item description.
Also, item listings written in broken English may indicate a seller is located outside North America. Many buyers, myself included, don’t necessarily have a problem with buying from sellers in other countries as long as they are not trying to be deceptive about their location. If you have a concern about the seller’s location you may want to e-mail the seller and ask for a telephone number to verify his or her true location.

Look for the Square Trade seal at the top of the auction listing
Square Trade is an online service that will mediate disputes between buyers and sellers. In cases of fraud, or if a dispute cannot be resolved, Square Trade’s Buyer protection program may pay claims of up to $1000, less a small deductible. If a seller has purchased Buyer Protection coverage, the maximum amount of claim allowed would be displayed in the Square Trade graphic displayed at the top of each item listing.
You can learn more about Square Trade at
www.squaretrade.com

Look for the the IDVerify seal in the listing
Some eBay sellers also use a service called “IDVerify” to establish proof of seller identity which helps reduce seller fraud. You can read more about IDVerify by visiting www.eBay.com and clicking on the “services” link at the top of the page.

Consider using Paypal for online Payments
www.Paypal.com is an online payment service that is owned by www.eBay.com. PayPal is a reputable service that provides individuals, such as eBay sellers, to accept credit card payments without the need for a credit card merchant account. You can transfer money to and from eBay and your checking account via wire transfer, standard check or a Visa check card. Your personal information is stored at PayPal – other eBay users never see your personal information.
Paypal’s Buyer Protection Program protects buyers who use Paypal for auction purchases up to $500. There are rules, however; Claims must be filed within 30 days of your Paypal payment to the seller. Also, you’re limited to only two claims per year and items must be “never received” or significantly not as describe.
Registration at Paypal is free. To read more about eBay’s Paypal service, visit www.Paypal.com
To read about Paypal’s Buyer Protection program, click the “Buyer Protection” logo on the Paypal home page.

Investigate the seller’s Paypal reputation
If the seller uses Paypal, you can check the seller’s Paypal reputation. The Paypal “reputation score” indicates the total number of people the Paypal user has paid and the total number of payments they have received. Unlike eBay’s feedback, the “reputation score” doesn’t rate the quality of the transactions, only the quantity. At the user’s request, Paypal will cap reputation scores at 1,000 to protect the privacy of the account holder.
A Paypal account is “Verified” if the Paypal user has a confirmed the bank account associated with their account. “Verified” Paypal users that have high reputation scores and older accounts are generally more trustworthy than unverified Paypal users with new accounts and low reputation scores.
Paypal user details are not visible in eBay auction listings, but you can easily reveal this information if you are a registered Paypal user.

How to view a Paypal Reputation
Step 1. Sign into www.Paypal.com
Step 2. Click the “send money” tab
Step 3. Type the users’s email address in the recipient’s e-mail text box
Step 4. Type .01 (1-cent) in the “Amount” text box, select Type:”Quasi-Cash” then click the [continue] button.
Step 5. Click the blue link to the right of the “User Status” label to display the Paypal user’s Reputation, Account Status, Type, and Account Creation Date.
Step 6. After viewing the user’s Paypal details, close the detail window then click the [cancel] button to prevent the 1-cent payment from being sent.

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