Scams Aimed at eBay Sellers
There are quite a few ways people try to scam eBay sellers. These include phishing - (also called spoofing), counterfeit payments, fake escrow services, switching products, and extortion.
We'll talk about the blatant scams first.
Phishing -- spelled P H I S H -- is when a scammer sends a spoof email in order to steal an eBay or PayPal account so he can use it to scam others. The spoof email looks like an official eBay email, but leads to fake but incredibly authentic-looking login pages on other sites. Three examples of phishing emails are:
Protecting Yourself From Phishing Emails
By learning to spot and avoid spoof emails, you can protect yourself from phishers out to steal your accounts. Here are four ways to protect yourself:
Common eBay Payment Scams
While counterfeit money orders and cashier's checks aren't as common as email spoofs, they are the most common examples of payment scams. A few types of payment scams are:
Counterfeit Money Orders: Usually these are for amounts higher than what is due, and the buyer asks for a partial refund by wire transfer. Less commonly, they are just fake checks designed to get you to ship an item. Protect yourself by never shipping items until checks clear. If the check is for hundreds or thousands of dollars more than the selling price, just throw it out.
Fake Payment Approval Emails: (More common with BidPay and money order services, but also seen with PayPal.) Protect yourself by waiting for checks to arrive and clear.
For PayPal notices log in to PayPal directly from your browser to confirm the payment. (You can also see PayPal payments on your "My eBay Items I'm Selling" page.)
Fake Escrow Services: This is where a buyer has you ship to an escrow service. He supposedly sends them payment and they forward it to you. Because the service is fake, you ship the item and never get paid. Don't use any escrow service not recognized by eBay. Link to eBay-approved escrow services.
Two Other Ways Buyers Take Advantage Of eBay Sellers
The most common way buyers try to take advantage of sellers is through Feedback Extortion. In this scam, a buyer threatens negative feedback unless the seller provides a partial refund. You can avoid this by communicating with the buyer through the eBay invoice system. If you get a buyer doing this, report him to eBay and he'll be prevented from leaving you feedback or filing a buyer protection case against you.
A variation of feedback extortion is The Negotiator. This buyer finds something wrong with your item then asks for a partial refund. Negotiators tend to get a lot of negative feedback and usually have a low number of feedbacks because they use multiple eBay accounts.
I don't give partial refunds unless I made a mistake, and I almost never do if the buyer asks in his first email. I always POLITELY tell unhappy buyers to send the item back and I will refund the everything including shipping both ways. For some polite buyers, or where I've made a mistake, I'll do a partial refund up to the shipping cost, but allow the buyer to keep the item in question.
A last way buyers try to take advantage of eBay sellers is by switching items and then returning them. A variation is removing parts before returning items. Both of these scams are less common than sellers think.
In order to avoid switching and parts removal, take good pictures of the items you sell so you can compare returned items with your pictures. If you feel this could happen to you, mark items inconspicuously with a black light pen. (Sanford #12100 is available in most office supply stores.)
Other links relating to phishing and scams:
An Example Of An eBay Spoof eMail
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