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11 eBay Scams To Avoid

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It's no secret how popular eBay is for buying and selling goods. After Amazon, it's the most-visited online marketplace worldwide. As great as that may sound, this also makes the website a prime target for scammers and con artists that use it to steal money through chargeback fraud, selling counterfeit goods and other crimes.

Learning about the 11 most common eBay scams below can improve your experience on the platform and keep you safe online.

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Can You Get Scammed on eBay?

There aren't statistics detailing the level of fraudulent activity on this platform, nor is there an eBay scammer list you can check. However, many people report being the victims of scams on eBay's community forums, Reddit and other social media platforms. The State of California Department of Justice's website also warns consumers about con artists posing as sellers on the marketplace.

eBay scams can also take place outside of the platform. Scammers often send emails that look like they're from eBay but link to a third-party site. If you follow that link, they may trick you into giving your personal and financial information or downloading malware on your device.

This process, known as phishing, lets hackers take your hard-earned money from your bank accounts or even steal your identity. You can protect yourself from identity theft by using identity theft protection services and antivirus software, which can enable you to avoid eBay email scams altogether.

Common eBay Scams to Avoid as a Buyer

eBay buyer scams include non-delivery of items you've purchased, receiving counterfeit products and third-party payment scams.

1. eBay Motors Scams

These scams, which take many forms, happen on eBay's Motors website.

An example of a common scheme is when a fraudulent seller creates a listing for a vehicle and makes up a sob story about needing to sell the car quickly. The seller will ask you to make a wire transfer for the vehicle before you can pick it up or have it delivered. Here's the issue: The car never existed and the seller runs off with your cash.

eBay acknowledges that motor scams are an issue on the platform. The company's Motors Security Center lists some red flags when purchasing a vehicle on its website. An obvious sign of an eBay car sales scam is if the price of a vehicle is too good to be true.

2. eBay Gift Card Scams

In this scam, a seller might tell you to pay for an item with an eBay gift card, which you can purchase from stores like CVS and Walgreens. The seller will then ask you to provide the gift card's code. If you do, you likely won't hear from the seller again, nor will you receive your item.

Be extra cautious if someone asks you to pay for a purchase with a gift card!

3. Non-Delivery of Items

After paying for a purchase, a seller might tell you they have shipped your goods. The issue is when they have no intention of sending you anything. While eBay will reimburse your losses for this kind of scam, its money-back guarantee won't cover items such as travel tickets, real estate or digital content, leaving you with no recourse.

4. Empty Box Scams

One of the most popular eBay schemes is the empty box. A seller sends you a package that appears to have contents inside. But when you open the box, it's empty.

A variation of this scheme is when a seller sends you a photo of the item you want rather than the actual product. Their listing might include a buried sentence like "You are paying for a photo only" to avoid being forced to return your money.

5. Counterfeit Items

Counterfeit items are exactly what they sound like. You're sent a fake product, even though the seller advertised it as genuine.

eBay says counterfeit products are illegal and not allowed on its platform. Alas, this stern warning doesn't stop scammers from selling imitation goods and using these practices to trick you.

6. Shipping With an Incorrect Address or Name

This scheme involves a con artist purposely sending your item to your address with an incorrect name or sending it to another address. In the event of an incorrect name, the fraudulent seller hopes you will return the package to them because you think the shipment was an error.

When you send the item back, you are no longer covered by eBay's money-back guarantee because the item was not in your name. That means you can't dispute your purchase and will lose your money due to this eBay return scam.

In the event of an incorrect address, a scammer makes it difficult for you to receive your item. They send your item to another address in hopes that the person will return it. You might have to dispute the wrong address with eBay, which can take up to 90 days — more than enough time for the scammer to carry out other fraudulent activities before disappearing from the platform.

7. Third-Party Payment Scams

One of the most obvious signs of a scam is if the seller asks you to pay outside of eBay's system. They'll direct you to a wire transfer, cryptocurrency transaction or a platform like Venmo or PayPal. Once you make the payment, the seller keeps your money and doesn't ship your item.

Because you didn't pay for your purchase through eBay, you can't dispute the transaction. However, you can report these fraudulent transactions with the relevant company and request a refund for a product you didn't receive or wasn't as advertised. Many platforms have buyer protection policies that allow you to get your money back after a scam.

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Common eBay Scams to Avoid as a Seller

Unfortunately, even sellers can get scammed on eBay. There are plenty of dishonest buyers looking to cheat the system and rob you of your item without paying. eBay seller scams include overpayment scams, off-platform deals and unwarranted chargebacks.

1. Empty Box Claims

You sold an item, packed it and shipped it off, only for the buyer to say they received an empty package. The buyer then asks you for a refund, which leaves you paying out of pocket. You might want to take photos of your item in its box before mailing it to a buyer and send these to eBay if a dispute arises.

2. Overpayment Scams

In this scam, a buyer pays significantly more for your item than the price you listed it for, then sends you a check that bounces. eBay still accepts checks as a payment method for vehicles, business and capital equipment and other items, so this is a scheme you should watch out for.

Alternatively, the buyer might request a chargeback with their bank if they paid with a credit or debit card. If a buyer overpays for an item, don't mail it to them until you sort out the discrepancy.

3. Off-Platform Deals

Like third-party payment scams on the buyer side, this scheme involves a buyer asking to pay for an item via a third-party platform like Venmo or Zelle. They might make up a story about why they can't accept money on eBay. Once you move to another platform, you can't dispute a transaction through eBay if the buyer reverses their payment.

Avoid this scam by keeping all transactions on the eBay platform.

4. Unwarranted Chargebacks

This scam happens when a buyer issues a chargeback after receiving their product to get it for free. For example, a buyer might claim they never received your item and then get their money back. In this scenario, keep records from the parcel tracking service used to send your item and ask eBay to intervene.

What Happens If You Get Scammed on eBay?

If you lost money from an eBay transaction, request a refund with the user to resolve the issue. You won't be able to dispute a transaction with eBay's customer service agents unless you complete this step first.

A seller has up to 21 days to reply and issue you a refund. If the user doesn't respond, you can apply for a refund through the platform's money-back guarantee and report the eBay user.

You can also check your credit report in case a buyer or seller used your personal information to steal your identity. Look for any accounts in your name that you didn't open and report these to the respective credit providers immediately. If you are the victim of an eBay scam such as an unauthorized transaction, you should also contact law enforcement.

How to Report a Seller on eBay

Reporting a seller takes just a few clicks. Use the "Report a seller" page on eBay's website if you think you have been the victim of a scam. eBay will review your claim and act appropriately if someone has committed a violation.

Don't use this method if you received a faulty or damaged item, or if what you receive is different from the listing description. eBay has separate processes for these scenarios, as well as for items that didn't arrive.

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How to Report a Buyer on eBay

If you want to report a buyer for violating eBay's policies, go to your Sold Items list in your eBay account, click "Leave feedback" from the dropdown menu next to the disputed item and click "Report Buyer." eBay will review your claim.

The company will take action if a buyer is demanding something not offered in your original listing or has committed another violation. For example, eBay can suspend the buyer's account and even block their IP address so they hopefully can't open another account.

How to Buy a Car on eBay Without Getting Scammed

Want to reduce your chances of getting scammed while buying a car on eBay? Check the seller's reviews and feedback score. Always buy a car from someone who has positive feedback from other users.

You should also engage the seller in conversation by asking more about the car. A legitimate seller will answer your questions completely. Watch out for any red flags in their messages, like vague information about the car's features and performance.

One of the easiest ways to spot eBay motor scams is by checking how much a vehicle costs. If a car's price is too good to be true, it probably is! A scammer might list a vehicle at a low price to attract buyers and convince them they're getting a bargain. Make sure you compare the cost of a car on the platform with its current market value to avoid eBay vehicle scams.

How to Not Get Scammed on eBay

As a buyer, always read the entire listing of an item and pay attention to any over-the-top claims or incorrect product features. That might mean the seller created a fake listing.

You can also do a reverse image search of the photos in a listing. If you find it elsewhere on the internet, they likely stole the image. Also, be wary of sellers with incomplete contact information and those who pressure you to purchase via private messages.

As a seller, watch out for buyers who recently joined eBay. Although new users aren't necessarily scammers, working with those with extensive purchasing histories and high feedback scores can provide peace of mind when selling high-value items. Also, be on high alert if a buyer wants to take a transaction off the eBay platform or requests excessive personal information from you.

One of the best ways to avoid getting scammed on eBay is to use antivirus software. Norton 360 Deluxe for eBay scams protects your personal information and privacy when browsing this online marketplace. It stops malware in its tracks and warns you of dangerous websites if you click on a link in a phishing email.

Summary of Digg's 11 eBay Scams to Avoid

You might experience one or more of the above schemes when buying and selling items on eBay. These include motor and gift card scams impacting buyers, empty box claims and unwarranted chargebacks.

Know the warning signs to look for; prevent a scam before it happens. Learning how to report fraud on eBay can save you from being ripped off. Remember that eBay's money-back guarantee can help you reclaim your stolen funds if you have been the victim of fraud.

Finally, keep in mind that while scammers exist on this platform, most transactions go off without a hitch. eBay can be just as safe as any other major online marketplace.