How to Spot and Save Yourself From eBay Buyer Scams

eBay is an online marketplace that allows people to buy, sell and auction various products at lower rates than the standard market price. Despite being a robust platform, eBay is prone to scams. eBay readily cooperates with law enforcement and the victims to reduce and mitigate fraud. Still, legal fights can sometimes be harrowing. This article explores what scams you can face as a buyer and how to keep those at bay.

How to Spot and Save Yourself From eBay Buyer Scams

Common eBay Frauds

As internet users, we are always at risk. The web is full of malicious parties. Going through these points will help you stay vigilant on eBay:

  • The Empty Box Scam

    In the empty box scam, the seller tends to list a popular item at a lower price than the market. However, when people buy in a rush, they overlook the fact that only the packaging is listed instead of the whole product. As a result, they receive nothing but expensive packaging and can't even complain as the details speak only about the packaging.

  • Counterfeit Products

    Any form of online shopping doesn't let the buyer verify the authenticity of goods before the purchase. Fraudulent sellers exploit this drawback and sell low-quality counterfeit replicas of branded items at attractive prices.

  • Non-delivery Fraud

    The money-back guarantee mechanism may save buyers from scammers. Still, it has some exceptions. Sales of vehicles, websites, real estate, businesses, exclusive services, classified ads, etc., are excluded from the money-back protection. In these cases, scammers may not deliver even after accepting payment.

  • Unofficial Payment Channels

    Sometimes, sellers redirect the buyers to a different payment channel, such as a check or bank transfer, instead of eBay's standard system. Once the transaction is complete, they stop communicating. In this situation, the buyers can't even get assistance from eBay as the money transfer didn't happen through their platform.

  • Wrong Name on the Label Scam

    Fraudulent sellers often ship the product with the wrong name on the packaging. As a result, the buyer thinks they received somebody else's package and returns it to the seller. So, the sellers keep both the product and the money. What's more distressing is that the transaction shows "refused" or "returned," and one can't raise a dispute against a transaction of this kind.

  • Fake Customer Service

    In this case, the scammer pretends to be from eBay customer service by putting a fake helpline number on the product page or their profile. When there is an issue with an order, a buyer calls this number, and as a result, they either lose sensitive information or hand money over to the cunning fraudster.

Top Tips to Evade eBay Scammers

The best way to avoid getting tricked is to be aware of the cons and perform financial dealings with sellers cautiously. Visit the eBay Security Center to know more about how eBay involves itself if a buyer reports a scam to the police.

Here are a few pointers to circumvent the most common scams on eBay.

  • Use Proper Payment Channels

    Always use eBay-approved payment methods and don't deal in checks.

    Consider it a red flag if a seller asks you to communicate or pay through any medium other than eBay's official channel.

  • Secure Yourself With Proxies

    Securing every session on eBay should be your priority. For this reason, you should invest in an encrypted proxy to use for eBay. A proxy server becomes an extra security layer and protects your transactions from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. They can also improve your chances with automated biddings using eBay bots.

  • Document Everything

    Documenting the whole purchasing process is essential and gives you enough evidence to raise a successful dispute. Take photographs of every identifying detail, such as serial numbers and unique codes of a listed item. As an alert buyer, you can video record the unboxing and the delivery.

  • Stay Vigilant

    You should thoroughly research any seller and check if a product's picture is genuine or copied from a stock image website. Always demand more info about the item using eBay's default chat system. If the sellers seem reluctant or unwilling to provide photos or information, it is probably a scam.

The Bottom Line

Finally, never rush the process of purchasing a product on eBay. Read all listings as carefully as possible and document the entire process. Use only the official eBay payment channel so that you can raise a dispute when things go south. Being aware of bad actors and their common tricks will help you gain an enjoyable shopping experience on the platform.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How to Spot and Save Yourself From eBay Buyer Scams