Home » Common EBay Scams – How to Recognize and Avoid Them

Common EBay Scams – How to Recognize and Avoid Them

by Andre Hospidales
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shopping on ebay

When it comes to buying and selling, eBay is the marketplace of choice for many consumers.

Transactions are usually straightforward and hassle-free on eBay.

There are unfortunately a lot of scammers on the platform, taking advantage of the vulnerable.

As a result, you should always be on your guard when shopping on eBay or any other online platform.

Here are the most common eBay scams to watch out for:

Seller knowingly sends the wrong item.

If you’re buying a computer, especially a laptop, you should be aware of this scam.

The scam typically works like this: the seller advertises a laptop with a high powered processor (for example, an Intel dual core i5).

After you buy the computer, the seller sends you one with an Intel Celeron processor, which is significantly less powerful and significantly cheaper than the one you ordered. 

In many cases, people don’t bother to check out the processor before buying a computer, and aren’t even aware they’ve been scammed until it’s too late.

Also, you may receive a copy of Windows 10 that is pirated.

Be sure to thoroughly inspect any computer you buy on eBay to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.  

In Windows 10, you can find out your computer’s processor and other specs by going to Settings > System > About.

Look under Device specifications.

Your computer’s processor, system type, RAM size, and whether it is a genuine copy of Windows 10 can all be found here.

In the left-hand pane, you can also check the size of your hard drive by clicking on Storage.  

Buyer claims item not received.

As an eBay business seller, you’re protected by PayPal’s seller protection program.

Nonetheless, if an order totals £450 or more, you’re required to get signature confirmation.

This protects you if the buyer claims they haven’t received their order.

Fraudsters know that private sellers may not be aware of this requirement.

So they will buy items worth over £450 and claim they never received them.

You won’t have any protection against those scammers if you didn’t purchase the signature confirmation.

Seller disappears after payment is made

This scam is simple.

You pay for an item and never receive it.

For the majority of listings, as a buyer, you’re protected by the eBay money back guarantee.

But there are several items that are not covered under this policy.

These include:

  • Vehicles
  • Real Estate
  • Business & websites for sale
  • Digital content,
  • Intangible goods
  • Classified ads
  • Services
  • Some business equipment categories

In other words, if you send payment to a fraudster for any of these high-value categories, you could lose all of your money and have no recourse. 

If you wish to avoid falling for this type of scam, you should physically inspect the item, pay in person, and pick up the item there and then.

Hijacked account

A weak or hackable password could lead to your account being hijacked by fraudsters.

Sellers with a large number of listed items on their accounts will be the first ones affected if their email addresses are changed as soon as they get hacked.

As a result, every time those items are sold, the fraudster gets paid.

The fraud could go unnoticed for months if you sell a lot of items each month without checking that you’re getting paid for each item.

This is because the fraudster will only modify a small percentage of items to avoid suspicion.

When you sell digital items and the buyer downloads the item automatically, you may not realize that you were scammed until a long time has passed.

Sellers have lost thousands of dollars to this scam and have no recourse.

If this happens to you, you will not receive any money back.

Utilizing a strong password and enabling two-factor authentication is the best way to ensure that your account is safe from hackers.

Fake buyer scam

This scam targets sellers on most online marketplaces, and you can lose both the item you’re selling and some money if you fall for it.

If it happens to you, you won’t have any recourse, so you should take steps to prevent it.

It all begins when a buyer shows interest in your product.

Depending on the cost of the item, you will notice that they overpay by at least £50 when they pay for the item.

They will then contact you to explain that they made a mistake and ask you to refund the difference to a different PayPal or bank account.

So, you ship the item and send the overpayment back.

You’ll often find, however, that the payment was made using a stolen credit card, and PayPal will reverse it once the credit card company contacts it.

Therefore, the seller loses both the item and the overpayment amount.

Any transaction involving an overpayment should be cancelled as it is not an error, but rather a sophisticated scam.

Phishing emails

In order to trick you into thinking you are getting an email from eBay, scammers send out spoofed emails that mimic eBay support emails.

These phishing emails contain a malicious link that mimics a legit eBay address, as with other phishing emails.

If you click the link, you’ll be taken to a spoofed webpage posing as eBay’s official website where you’ll be asked to sign in and provide financial and personal data.

Alternatively, you may be redirected to an infected website that downloads malware to your device.

To report a phishing email, send it to eBay at spoof@ebay.co.uk as an attachment and delete the message from your device. 

Have I missed anything?

So there you have it: the most common eBay scams.

Do you know of any scams on eBay that are not listed here?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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