It Started Like Any Other Ebay Purchase
Recently, I needed to buy a new iPod so I could review some software for one of my other blogs. Because I had been an eBay Powerseller, I knew eBay was the place I needed to go to find the best deal. I did some shopping around and found a seller with a great selection, low prices and impeccable feedback ratings. I placed my bid and won the exact iPod I was looking for. I went to PayPal and made my payment.
So far, so good, right?
Jeff Gets Phished
Less than one minute after I completed my PayPal business, I received an email from the seller(supposedly)claiming that I was not to make a payment until I received a follow-up email with instructions. First red flag.
Minutes later, the aforementioned email shows up in my inbox. It told me that the seller had his PayPal account temporarily suspended because of high volume. It continued that I needed to make a payment through Western Union. Second red flag.
Being suspicious, I sent a response telling them I had already made payment through PayPal and asked what they advised me to do(hahaha). They responded telling me that once I made the Western Union payment, the PayPal payment would be immediately refunded to me. Third red flag.
Knowing this was all bullshit, I forwarded the email to eBay security. They confirmed it was phishing. I then contacted the seller directly through eBay telling them to beware that somebody was sitting on his auctions and sending these emails out. He thanked me for the email. A few days later, I received my mint condition refurbed iPod, left feedback and have been thrilled with my purchase since.
What Did We Learn Here?
Even though the criminals are getting more creative and, in some cases, more sophisticated, there are still some simple steps you can take to not get ripped off on eBay.
Among these are:
- Only deal with sellers that have at least a 99% feedback rating and make sure to read through feedbacks to see if you spot a consistent complaint.
- I will not buy from anybody who doesn’t have at least 100 feedbacks because it’s impossible to get any kind of profile on a seller who has less than that.
- When you win an auction, wait for the official ebay email telling you that you’ve won and how to complete your purchase.
- If you receive ANY email telling you to do anything different than the auction listing DON’T DO IT! Instead, log into your eBay account and check your messages to see if an official eBay message was sent.
- Whether you received an eBay message or not, go to the items you’ve won section, click on the item you’ve won and select “Ask seller a question.” Tell the seller about the email you received and ask them to confirm it was from them.
- Here’s the part that might throw you for a loop-Even if the seller confirms the email IS from them and they want you to complete your payment through some third party that’s not part of Ebay, DON’T DO IT! Chances are they are scam artists who simply have not been shutdown yet by eBay.
- Forward all emails to eBay’s security department at the address provided in the help section and wait to hear back from them.
- If eBay gives their approval of the change in terms the seller has proposed by all means go ahead and complete the transaction.
I can’t overemphasize the importance of reading a listing FULLY before even making a bid. That way, at least you know the terms well enough to know if somebody’s playing you for a fool.
Beyond that, deal with sellers you trust and don’t fall for follow-up emails asking you to do something the listing did not mention.
Finally, make sure to make use of eBay security if you ever have a doubt. I got my response back in less than one hour from the security address because eBay obviously considers that a high priority area.