4 eBay Scams You Should Know About

ebay scams

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eBay is a popular selling platform, and there are plenty of great things to buy. However, buyers and sellers should practice vigilance on the platform as there are opportunities for fraud that scammers can take advantage of. This post informs you about common eBay scams and guides you on how to best steer clear of them.

Be Aware of These Common eBay Scams

There are a few different types of scams currently going around, with some that use specific features of eBay to their advantage, as well as common credit card fraud scams that are seen on other platforms. eBay scams can vary, with some using specific eBay money features to defraud users through buyer purchases.

Other scams may be related to disputes, providing incorrect addresses, and even using stolen credit cards to purchase items. Here, we’ll explore some of the common scam types you’re likely to come across on the platform and how they tend to work. That way, you’ll know how to protect yourself when the time comes to buy and sell your merch.

eBay Scams You Should Know About

1. eBay Gift Cards Scams

One of the more common scams you might see is eBay gift card scams. Scammers may purchase gift cards you’re selling, and after redeeming the card and draining the balance, they will file a dispute with eBay and/or PayPal, claiming it was an unauthorized purchase. In this case, buyers must pay back the fees while losing the gift card.

To avoid these scams, it’s best not to buy or sell gift cards on the platform. Similarly, you may have someone contacting you to urgently purchase an eBay gift card and give them the redemption code for payment. This is another type of eBay scam where you will be left with the purchase price of the card and scammed outside of eBay. If using an eBay gift card, do not share the redemption code with anyone except for trusted friends and family.

2. eBay Buyers Scams

If you’re selling on eBay, a large percentage of your sales will go without a hitch. However, there are certain types of buyer scams to be aware of so you can protect yourself and your money.

For example, one of the common scams you’ll see is buyer claims that the item never arrived and files a dispute to get the money back – even if you’ve sent it already. You can protect yourself by having some proof of postage for the item so that you can provide evidence for a resolved dispute in your favor.

Another version is the empty box scam, where the buyer receives an empty box instead of what they ordered and files a dispute. Tracking numbers and signature delivery are the best defense against a scam. Again, use tracking number options or signature confirmation to prevent any issues down the line.

Another type of scam is that buyers often ask to have the item sent to an address different from what’s listed on their eBay or PayPal accounts.

Do not accept buyer overpayments for items, especially if the buyer asks for the money back after purchasing. If you see something that looks like a red flag, declining the sale is okay.

eBay Scams You Should Know About

3. eBay Seller Scams

Buying from eBay is a great way to get items at a fraction of the price, but unfortunately, you should be careful of many cases of seller fraud. Fraudulent sellers have been using different techniques to scam users, so it’s essential to keep looking for them to protect yourself.

One common scam is that sellers may ask you to pay outside the eBay platform, citing high fees and other issues. They may ask you to wire money to a bank account or complete a bank transfer money directly to their account. They may ask you to send money differently, even saying they accept checks.

But no matter how you slice it, it will be a bad idea. It would be best if you kept all interactions on the platform, including business transactions, requests for wire transfers, and payments. Seller requests like these should be declined, and you should avoid buying from them.

Another scam you should be careful of is sellers asking for additional shipping costs after purchasing the item. If the sale is final, do not agree to other payments and cancel the order instead. It’s not worth trying to fight with them over the purchase, and eBay does have a money-back guarantee that you can use in cases like this.

A fraudulent seller may also scam you after the purchase. Sometimes, the seller ships the items with an incorrect name on the package. When you return it to the post office, the item is sent back to the seller…and you lose your money. Since the item has shipped and been delivered to you, resolving a dispute in your favor can be difficult, and the seller will keep the item and the money.

More Major eBay Scams to Watch Out For

There aren’t many eBay scams to look out for, but it’s crucial to stay vigilant.

4. Credit card scam

This one is harder to control for sellers, but it is happening more often. Fraudsters will use stolen credit cards to purchase items and leave sellers to deal with the ensuing mess with the credit card company and potential chargeback fee once the fraud is discovered. Always check the address and name of the buyer before shipping the item and try to match it up with the payment when possible.

eBay Scams You Should Know About

Scam TypeDescriptionProtection Tips
eBay Gift Card ScamsScammers buy and drain gift cards, then file unauthorized purchase disputes. Avoid selling or sharing redemption codes. Refuse urgent gift card requests.- Avoid buying/selling gift cards on eBay. - Don't share gift card codes except with trusted contacts.
eBay Buyers ScamsBuyers falsely claim items didn't arrive, file disputes. Empty box scam: buyer gets empty box, files dispute. Protect yourself with proof of postage, tracking numbers, and signature delivery. Watch for unusual address requests.- Maintain proof of postage. - Use tracking numbers and signature confirmation. - Be cautious of shipping to different addresses. - Don't accept overpayments from buyers.
eBay Seller ScamsSellers may request transactions outside eBay, ask for extra shipping costs, or use deceptive names. Keep transactions within the platform. Be cautious of sellers demanding non-standard payments.- Conduct all transactions on eBay. - Decline non-standard payment requests. - Don't agree to additional shipping payments after purchase. - Be cautious of sellers using incorrect recipient names.
eBay Seller ScamsSellers may request transactions outside eBay, ask for extra shipping costs, or use deceptive names. Keep transactions within the platform. Be cautious of sellers demanding non-standard payments.- Conduct all transactions on eBay. - Decline non-standard payment requests. - Don't agree to additional shipping payments after purchase. - Be cautious of sellers using incorrect recipient names.
Credit Card ScamFraudsters use stolen credit cards to buy items, leaving sellers with potential chargeback fees. Check buyer details before shipping.- Verify buyer details match payment information. - Stay alert for inconsistencies in address and name.

How Bad is The eBay Scam Issue?

In 2022, U.S. consumers lost around $230 million due to various gift card scams, with eBay gift cards being a significant part of this. This figure underlines the importance of vigilance when navigating online marketplaces. Unfortunately, like many of the platforms available on the Internet, scamming is always a risk.

Fortunately, if you arm yourself with the right knowledge about common types of eBay scams, you can protect yourself and your eBay account while using the platform.

eBay’s Efforts to Combat Scams

The eBay website is generally very safe to use, but scams have been on the rise across different platforms. In their 2022 Global Transparency Report, they outlined how they are actively working to combat the issue of scams on its platform.

The report detailed the significant steps the eCommerce company is taking to enhance the safety and security of its users. This included blocking 88 million suspected counterfeit items.

Furthermore, eBay’s AI tools prevented an additional 295 million prohibited items from being listed. This represents a 20% decrease from the number of prohibited items blocked in 2021, which was partly attributed to a reduced need for COVID-related blocks.

The decrease also highlights how eBay’s AI technology is continuously evolving to outsmart bad actors and prevent the listing of problematic items. These efforts demonstrate eBay’s commitment to creating a safer online marketplace and show how technology can be leveraged to protect users from scams and fraudulent activities.


How to Avoid an eBay Scam

eBay has a lot of unique products and legitimate sellers that you can purchase from. Here are some tips to help you avoid eBay scams and buy confidently:

  1. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is: If you see a super rare item for a very low price or something that looks like an amazing deal on heavily discounted items – it’s better to do research beforehand than worry about it later. Always check the market price for items and read descriptions carefully before purchasing.
  2. Ignore fake emails: Many scammers have been using fraudulent emails as part of phishing attempts to gain sensitive information. Sellers should only be able to contact you on the eBay platform for payment and other issues and avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails.
  3. Don’t buy counterfeit goods: eBay sellers often put up fake listings to pull a bait-and-switch scam – you think you’re buying an original product, but you get a counterfeit one instead. Ask sellers questions about items before purchasing, and again, if it looks like too good of a deal…it probably is, so it’s best to avoid it.

Staying Vigilant Against eBay Scams

While eBay is generally a safe platform, scammers are always finding new ways to take advantage of buyers and sellers. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Verify sellers have high ratings and positive reviews before making a purchase
  • Avoid deals that seem too good to be true
  • Never pay with bank transfer, wire transfer or cashier’s check
  • Use PayPal when possible for purchase protection
  • Don’t click suspicious links in emails – always log in directly
  • Review shipping and return policies before buying
  • Document everything in case you need to file a dispute
  • Trust your gut – if something seems off, it probably is

By staying informed and being cautious, you can avoid many of the scams targeting eBay users. Pay attention to red flags, keep communication on the platform, and use common sense to have a smooth buying and selling experience.

eBay Scams You Should Know About

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Protecting Your Online Shopping Experience

Got questions about eBay security? We’re here to help you shop smart and scam-free. Check out these FAQs for the inside scoop on staying safe on the platform:

Can You Get Scammed by Using eBay?

Unfortunately, yes. Scammers target various online platforms, including eBay, exploiting the trust of users. Although eBay maintains a generally safe environment, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and informed about potential scams that can compromise your experience.

What Types of eBay Scams Should I Be Aware Of?

eBay scams take on diverse forms, making awareness crucial. From gift card fraud and buyer disputes to deceptive addresses and even credit card scams, staying informed is key to safeguarding yourself against potential threats.

Tell Me About eBay Gift Card Scams.

In the realm of eBay scams, the gift card scheme is a notable one. Scammers purchase your listed gift cards, exhaust their balances, and subsequently file disputes, falsely claiming unauthorized transactions. Evading this scam involves refraining from selling or sharing gift card redemption codes and being cautious when faced with urgent gift card purchase requests.

How Can I Protect Myself from Buyer Scams?

For sellers, the specter of buyer scams looms. Unfounded claims of non-delivery or receipt of empty packages can be unsettling. Shield yourself by meticulously documenting proof of postage, integrating tracking numbers, and demanding a recipient’s signature upon delivery to validate your transactions.

What About Seller Scams?

As a buyer, vigilance is paramount to fend off potential seller scams. Remain wary of sellers who propose transactions outside of eBay, request additional post-purchase fees, or employ misleading recipient names on packages. Opting for transactions solely within the eBay platform ensures a layer of security.

Are There More eBay Scams to Watch Out For?

Although eBay is a relatively secure marketplace, the specter of credit card scams persists. Fraudsters exploit stolen credit cards for purchases, necessitating your vigilance in scrutinizing buyer details before shipping to avoid complications.

How Can I Avoid Falling for an eBay Scam?

To navigate eBay’s marketplace safely, adhere to these fundamental guidelines:

  • If an offer seems too good to be true, conduct thorough research before committing.
  • Brush aside suspicious emails and restrict communications to the eBay platform.
  • Exercise caution when purchasing items that might be counterfeit; make inquiries before finalizing transactions.

How Can I Identify If Someone Is Scamming Me on eBay?

Detecting potential scams involves recognizing red flags, such as incorrect account names, dormant or new accounts, and atypical requests. Scrutinizing a seller’s feedback history and transaction record can offer valuable insights.

Can I Get a Refund If I’m Scammed on eBay?

Absolutely. eBay extends a money-back guarantee in specific scenarios, offering potential recourse. For example, if an item fails to arrive and the seller cannot substantiate postage, you may qualify for a refund, promoting a safer shopping experience.

Are eBay Sellers Protected by PayPal Seller Protection?

PayPal Seller Protection operates exclusively within the confines of PayPal transactions on eBay. Opting for transactions within eBay’s confines augments security and safeguards against potential issues.

Is It Safe to Share My Bank Account Information on eBay?

To ensure your safety, it’s advisable to limit the extent of personal and financial data shared on eBay. Opting for saved card numbers or the PayPal payment system offers a layer of security against potential vulnerabilities.

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Myra Nizami Myra Nizami is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 3 years. She is also a freelance writer and researcher with a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a Master's from Kings College London.