from wikiHoweBay was rated by The Observer as the #1 website that changed the internet and is used by over 168 million users. It is a utopia for used goods, but it is also a nesting ground for ill-intentioned scammers. Being scammed (paying for an item but not receiving it, or buying a damaged item, or reciving a counterfeit product) is a very rare circumstance that is generally easy to avoid.
- The first step is to check the user's feedback. It can be found on the right side of the screen. This tells you how many items the user has sold, and what percentage of users were pleased with their service. It is recommended that you only buy from users with a percentage of 95 or greater.
- Then, if the user has negative feedback, click "Read Feedback Comments" to see what the issue was. Normally the problem is something along the lines of "Arrived Late" or if there is a serious problem, you can read the seller's explanation of the issue.
- Next, you should check how many items the user has sold, if the user had just created an account, sold one item, and has 100% feedback, it isn't saying much.
- The number next to the seller name is how many items they have sold and bought, and the symbols next to the number represent the titles the seller have. If a user is a power seller, they are a trusted member of the eBay community, and you can expect excellent service from them.
- Next, you should check what methods of payment that the user accepts. If the user only accepts cash or money orders, then you should be slightly suspicious. The safest method is PayPal. It draws money from your bank account and puts it into the seller's. If you are scammed, you will be refunded (partially) by PayPal. The best part, is that the seller gets none of your personal information.
- All the previous steps are to protect yourself from not receiving the item. Another way you can be taken advantage of is by being sold a damaged item. The best way to avoid this is to pay attention.
- Read all of the descriptions, especially the fine print. If the condition of the item is stated correctly in the description, you cannot receive a refund.
- Look at all of the pictures. What may look like a reflection could actually be a large scratch.
- If you do receive an item that was inaccurately portrayed, you should contact the seller, demand a refund, and send the item back.
- If, despite all of these steps, you are still scammed, or the seller refuses to refund you, then fill out an eBay fraud report, you will either get your refund and return the item, or if you never received the item you will not get all of your money back, but you will get a percentage, and the seller's account will be shut down.
- Often times just sending the seller an email will help to resolve the problem. It may just be a misunderstanding. Also, in your "My eBay" there is a message center that eBay members can use to message each other. If you have not heard from your seller via e-mail, you may want to check your My eBay Inbox.
- Read all of the descriptions. If you skip over an important fact about the condition of the item, it's your problem.
- Many times the items on eBay look prettier than they do in reality. This isn't trick photography, but rather just 'good' photography. Take any old item, place it on a decorative 'set' and shine some bright lights on it and it will look good.
- Worst case scenario if you have the fraudulent seller's information, placing a call to the seller's local police department and explaining the situation will generally compel an officer to go out and investigate what occurred and see if a crime has been committed. [This works best in smaller cities.] Many times just the visit of a police officer inquiring as to what might have happened will help a fraudulent seller want to try and rectify the situation.
- If you are not in possession of the fraudulent seller's address or real name, but you know their phone number, there are numerous websites that can help you find out who owns a phone number. (Example: http://www.phonesearchcentral.com/ or http://www.tracing-america.com/)
- If you are in possession of the seller's real name and know what city they live in, a free public records search with a website like http://www.zabasearch.com/ will often times find their home address.
- Use a service like http://www.auctionerrol.com/ to check the listing for fraud.
- Is the deal you just found "Too good to be true"? It might be, sometimes the deal is too good, and is likely to be a scam.
- If possible, try to see what the other items the person sold up to that point have been. Sometimes people sell very small, cheap items in "penny auctions" to get high sales figures, high approval ratings and feedback. Then they start to sell high ticket items when their trust has been falsely pumped up.
- Watch out for high shipping prices. You may be saving on the item, but paying a small fortune for shipping.
- Pay close attention as to where your item ships from. If you see inexpensive designer goods being shipped by a seller from (for example) Hong Kong, you'd be right to question the items authenticity. (ie: Fake Designer Goods)
- Be very careful if you are selling an item and the winning bidder wants to mail you a money order for more then the item sold for, and then have you cash it and mail back the difference. This is a well known scam where a buyer will purchase an item and mail you a fake money order, (usually from overseas.) Then when you take the money order to the bank you may end up being arrested for trying to cash a fake money order!
- Sellers should also be very wary of anyone who buys their item and then requests that it be mailed overseas. ("I am on a business trip in Nigeria and need the item shipped to me here" is a common ploy)
- Sellers should exercise caution selling high dollar items on ebay: The higher the dollar value of your auction the more likely you are to have fraudulent ebayers bidding on your item.