8 Ways To Spot An eBay Scammer

As I said in my previous post about eBay scams, the amount of fraudulent activity on eBay is relatively tiny in terms of the number of transactions taking place on there every day.

Most deals on the auction site do in fact go smoothly but there is still a lot of talk about scams because of the sheer number of people on there at any one time.

Personally, I managed to avoid any problems on eBay for about 2 years before anyone ever tried to scam me.

Just recently, though, it seems to be a common occurrence, with 3 of the last 5 people who bought from me trying some kind of ruse or other 🙁


You can minimise the chances of becoming an eBay scam victim by using these 8 tips to detect a potential scammer –

1. Strange eBay ID’s

If you see the eBay ID ffjhk4 then it may possibly mean something to the seller. More likely, however, is that it belongs to a scammer who is hiding behind a gibberish and forgettable name.

2. Recently changed eBay ID

Anyone who has changed their eBay ID in the last 30 days will have a special icon next to their name to highlight that fact. If that person is also a new user then beware – scammer’s often change their eBay name to avoid detection.

3. Zero, low or bought feedback

Feedback is a tool you can use for evaluating another user’s reputation. The problem is, it can be manipulated to a degree. Everyone has to start on zero but if you see a seller with a lot of recent feedback, and it is all for those penny ebooks, then you might want to wonder what they are up to.

4. Atrocious spelling

No-one is perfect, and we all make typing errors from time to time. If you are reading a list where the typing is just plain awful and common words are incorrectly spelled that may mean something else though. A lot of scammers are from countries other than the ones they would like you to think and so cannot spell in your native language.

5. Unsecured payment methods

If you are being asked to pay via Western Union or money order, especially when more secure payment types had originally been offered in the listing, then you are almost certainly being scammed. If you lose money through such a payment processor then you will almost certainly have no recourse and will have zero chance of getting it back.

6. Familiar photos

A genuine seller will present their items through their own photographs. If you are looking at a photo that you have seen on an official web site or other eBay listings then you have to question why.

7. Detailed descriptions

A good seller is going to try and offer you as much information as possible about their item, through their listing. If you come across something that has minimal information then question the seller – are they inexperienced or is it because they don’t actually have the item?

8. Pricing

Sometimes, people with low feedback scores will sell items cheaply because they know you would go to a trusted Powerseller instead if they didn’t. However, if you are thinking of purchasing a ‘Buy It Now’ that seems too cheap to be true then stop and consider that maybe it is.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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