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Avoiding eBay Scams for Buyers


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eBay is a fun place to go shopping, and a great place to find bargains, but one thing to be aware of, is that there are some, yes relatively few, but definitely some, sharks out there who will quite happily scam people to make a few extra bucks. Numerous people have been scammed or defrauded, so it pays to be cautious and to protect yourself.

If you are scammed, there are certain steps that you can take to report the incident, and try to get a resolution, but in many cases the scammer may get away with it. However, prevention is much better than cure, so the best thing to do is to be alert for warning signs and not get scammed in the first place.

The very first thing that you need to do, is no matter how much of a great deal seems to be on offer at first glance - you must make sure that you carefully read every word of the description and auction details. If you didn't read the details properly, then how can you be sure what you are buying? Additionally, there are some eBay sellers who rely on people not reading the description properly: it's not unknown for people to create auctions which look (at a glance) like they are selling a valuable item (such as an Xbox, a phone or jewelry), but actually, buried in the small print, it tells you that they are simply selling something that most people would consider practically worthless - such as an email address at a free email service, the “picture only" of the item, or just the cardboard box that once contained the item!

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to choose a safe method for making payments for items. Probably the safest method for making payments is to use PayPal (which eBay incidentally owns). The advantage of using PayPal is that if you are scammed or less than satisfied with the item when it arrives, you can dispute the charge easily, and demand a refund. The seller must reply and show proof that the item was shipped, and that it arrived in the condition that you expected, or PayPal will return your funds to your account.

For big ticket items, you may also wish to consider using an escrow service. A reliable escrow service helps protect you, by ensuring that the seller does not receive your money until you have received the item.

One other scam to be aware of, one that has made the TV news, is so-called “phishing" scams. What happens is that criminals send out emails that pretend to be from eBay or PayPal (or your bank or credit card company) requesting that you log-in to a web site or otherwise verify or update your details. However, these emails actually send you to a fake web site, that looks exactly like the real web site, but which captures your captures your log-in details, so that these criminals can access your accounts The thing to be aware is that eBay, PayPal, banks and credit card companies do not send emails requesting you log-in, so if you do receive such emails, you can be sure that they are fake and someone is trying to scam you!

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