Staying Safe on Ebay


For over ten years eBay has been used by consumers to find deals on the things they want as well as an affordable way to sell items, whether you are cleaning out your attic or starting a small business. But like with most things online, you need to know the facts in order to avoid those who wish to scam you and take your money.

Known eBay Scams

Watch out for items that are solicited on another site such as Craigslist, and then redirect you to a site that looks like eBay. These are almost always scams and are often for high priced items such as a car.  The thief will ask you to fill out your financial information on a page that appears to be eBay and then will request that you wire the money via Western Union. Often times the place they want you to wire it to is out of the country or in another state. This is another indication that it is fraudulent.

If you are purchasing an expensive item such as a car, make sure that it is located close enough to you that you can see it in person and inspect it. Look at the picture they have used for the vehicle. Does it look like they took the picture themselves or does it look like a stock image. Many scammers will solicit cars they know are in high demand and use pictures from other websites or even other legitimate eBay solicitations.  They claim they will ship/drive it to you after you pay them. This common scam usually results in the victim being out thousands of dollars and never receiving a car.

Ebay will never ask for your social security number, nor will they ask for any credit card information unless you are a seller. Do not respond to any emails that request that you update your eBay account information. When in doubt, log into your account manually by going to

Things to Look For

Be wary of sellers who are eager to sell items by making a short sale duration. They may be perfectly legit, but often thieves want to get the money and get away as quickly as possible. Read reviews of the sellers and look for how long they have been using eBay.

Consider how the seller wishes to be paid when making a choice on who to buy from. Thieves will almost always ask you to wire money via Western Union because it is virtually untraceable and you cannot get the money back once it has been sent. Using methods like PayPal are safest because you have up to four days to get your money back as well as somebody to report  to if the seller does not ship your item.

Be wary of second chance offers. Sometimes they are scams preying upon those who lost an auction.

For more information, you can read eBay’s own page on ways to spot and stay safe from scams.

Online Shopping Safety

It is important to recognize that there are special risks when you shop online, as is the case when you are using Ebay. Whenever you buy anything online you will need to enter your credit card information, paypal credentials, etc. You want to make sure that this information is not compromised.  To protect yourself from this happening you should be sure you are using proper cybersecurity measures.  This should include having an up to date anti-virus software, updating security patches and installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Especially if you shop online while using WiFi, this last step is essential in protecting yourself from identity theft.

While it may not be as scary as hitting the malls on Christmas Eve, bargain shopping online can be dangerous.  The above tips should help reduce your risk of identity theft. So, go ahead…get shopping.



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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.

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