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Is eBay Safe? Why Buying from eBay Is Risk

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Your first attempt at buying on eBay might be scary.

We mean, after reading or hearing several stories of scams on the platform, you’re only left to wonder if buying on eBay is safe.

While there’s no safe place on earth, it’s best to know what risks you might face when buying from sites like eBay and possible security measures to avoid them.

To answer the question “Is eBay Safe?”, we’ll highlight the risks people face buying or selling on the platform and ways you can do so safely.

Is eBay Safe?

Yes, eBay can be safe if buyers and sellers take proper precautions.

Like other open-channel ecommerce sites, eBay doesn’t own the products listed on it, yet, it has implemented various security systems to ensure the safety of its users.

It uses user verification, buyer protection, and seller performance standards.

We’ll show you how safe it is and help you learn why eBay is a great option for buyers and sellers.

Is It Safe to Use a Debit Card on eBay?

You’re safe using a debit card on eBay, granted you take the necessary precautions.

The platform uses encryption technology, like the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), to protect your personal and financial information.

eBay also doesn’t share your card details with the seller, so there’s no unauthorized access to your card.

Is It Safe to Use a Credit Card on eBay?

As with debit cards, your credit card transactions are secure with AES encryption, so using it on eBay is safe.

eBay also requests that its sellers link their bank accounts to PayPal.

This way, both PayPal and your credit card company can protect you.

Is eBay Safe to Sell On?

Selling on eBay can be safe, especially if you follow the policies and guidelines.

When starting an eBay business, you can stay safe on the platform by accurately describing the products, shipping items promptly and securely with tracking information, and playing by the rules.

Is eBay Safe to Buy Phones?

On a scale of 1 to 100, we can say it’s 60% safe to buy a phone on eBay. The platform has tried to improve its safety beyond average. However, the remaining 40% will require your effort.

To minimize your risk when buying phones on eBay, do the following:

  • Read reviews from previous buyers
  • Avoid sellers with low or negative feedback ratings
  • Read the item description and examine the photo
  • Use a secure payment method like PayPal
  • Verify the phone’s IMEI number to ensure it’s not stolen or blacklisted
  • Research the phone model to determine its market value

Is it Safe to Buy from eBay Without PayPal?

Buying on eBay without PayPal may be less secure and put you at a higher risk for fraud.

While it’s possible to buy from eBay without it, PayPal offers buyer protection against unauthorized transactions and fraudulent sellers, which can be valuable when buying on eBay.

You might also be missing out on the PayPal speedy refund, which can help you get your money back faster, especially if you suspect fraud or don’t receive the goods you paid for.

What Are the Risks of eBay?

An online marketplace like eBay comes with high risks. According to a report by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), online scams have risen by 87% since 2015.

While such figures are scary, knowing the loopholes exploited by scammers online can give you an edge over them.

Can You Get Scammed on eBay?

Both buyers and sellers can get scammed on eBay.

Even with eBay’s measures to protect both buyers and sellers, there are still instances where scammers can take advantage of the platform.

Some common scams on eBay include:

  • Non-delivery scams
  • Fake item scams
  • Refund scams
  • Phishing scams

Let’s look at the risks for sellers and buyers.

What Are the Risks for Sellers?

  • Fraudulent Buyers Requesting Refunds: In some cases, fake customers may falsely claim that they received a broken item, or it wasn’t as described, or that they never received it in an attempt to get a refund. This can cause PayPal to remove the funds from the seller’s account.
  • Not Being Paid for Sent Items: Some buyers may refuse to pay or make fraudulent claims to payment providers, resulting in chargebacks or disputes when you’ve already sent the item.
  • Being Paid With a Stolen Credit Card: This is becoming rampant recently. A buyer uses a stolen credit card to place an order, leading to a chargeback that causes the seller to lose money.
  • Fraudulent Feedback: Fake customers may leave negative feedback that isn’t based on the actual transaction. This can affect the seller’s reputation and cause eBay to suspend their account.
  • Fulfillment Issues: Sellers may face delayed or lost shipments or incorrect items sent to buyers, which can cause negative feedback, disputes, and loss of sales.

What Are the Risks for Buyers?

  • Sellers Asking for Payment Off of eBay: Unscrupulous sellers on eBay may ask buyers to pay for items outside the platform, especially through bank transfers or untraceable methods like gift cards, cryptocurrency, and Venmo. While this is against eBay’s policies, buyers who give in might not get the item after making payments.
  • Account Hacking: Hackers may gain access to a buyer’s account to make unauthorized purchases, access personal information, or change account settings. This can happen if the buyers use weak passwords or when they use the same password across multiple accounts.
  • Phishing Scams: Phishing scams involve scammers sending emails or messages that appear to be from eBay, asking for personal or financial information. These messages may contain links to fake eBay login pages or ask buyers to provide sensitive information over email.
  • Incorrect Name on Label on Purpose: Some sellers may intentionally use forged names or addresses on package labels to ship an item to a buyer. This makes it harder for eBay to track the shipment and confirm delivery.
  • Counterfeit or Stolen Items: The difference between a high-value or luxury item and a counterfeit may be difficult to spot by looking at a photograph. Most fraudulent buyers leverage this to sell low-quality or stolen items at an inflated price.

Does eBay Have Any Buyer Protection?

Yes, eBay offers several forms of buyer protection to help protect its buyers. These protections can help resolve issues if you don’t receive an item or if it’s significantly different from the description.

Here are some protective measures eBay offers:

  • eBay Money Back Guarantee: You can use this to file a refund for the purchase price and original shipping costs if you didn’t receive an item or the item delivered is different from what you ordered.
  • eBay Guarantee on Authenticity: eBay offers a guarantee on the authenticity of certain goods like luxury watches and handbags. So, you can get a total refund if you receive a counterfeit item.
  • eBay Resolution Center: This is a platform where buyers can open a case if they have an issue with a purchase. The Resolution Center provides a means for buyers and sellers to communicate and work together to resolve the issue.
  • eBay Customer Service: The customer champion team can help you with any issue. You can contact them through the eBay website or mobile app.

Despite eBay’s buyer protection service, you might not get a refund on the non-delivery of goods in categories like real estate, digital content, businesses for sale, and travel tickets, among others.

Will eBay Refund You if You Get Scammed?

eBay’s policies can protect you from fraudulent activities, but whether or not you’ll receive a refund depends on the situation.

For one, if your purchased item isn’t as described on eBay or if you don’t receive it, you can qualify for a refund through the money-back guarantee program.

However, you must file the case with eBay’s Resolution Center within 30 days of the estimated or actual delivery date.

How Do You Avoid Getting Scammed on eBay?

vector graphic showing an illustration of figuring out if ebay is safe

While buying or selling stuff online on eBay, you can avoid getting scammed by taking a few actions.

We’ll highlight some of those actions below.

How to Avoid Scams as a Seller

Let’s start with the seller scenario.

1. Carefully Examine All Emails You Receive

Scammers often send phishing emails to eBay sellers to trick them into giving away personal information.

Beware of any email that asks you to click on a link or provide your login information.

Always examine your emails and avoid clicking links unless they’re legitimate.

2. Stick to Payment Through eBay

If a buyer requests to pay outside of eBay using a different payment method, that’s a red flag.

Always insist on making payments through eBay’s payment system to protect yourself from scams.

3. Contact the Buyer Directly to Solve Issues

If a buyer raises an issue with an item they received, don’t panic. Instead, contact the buyer directly through eBay’s messaging system. Try to discuss the issue and find a solution.

Avoid communicating outside eBay’s messaging system, as scammers may try to lure you into a fake transaction or scam.

4. Don’t Accept Overpayment

Like on Facebook Marketplace, overpaying for an item is becoming a regular fraud plot on eBay.

A buyer overpays for an item and asks you to refund the difference.

This is often done to get you to refund the money before it has cleared, leaving you out of pocket.

If a buyer overpays for an item, avoid refunding any money until it has fully cleared.

5. Always Get the Tracking Number of the Items You Send

To protect yourself from problem buyers claiming they never received an item, always get a tracking number that shows proof of delivery for any items you send.

This helps you prove that you delivered the item and prevents disputes over non-delivery.

Related: Looking for ideas on what to sell? Read more about the best things to sell on eBay.

How to Avoid Scams as a Buyer

Now, let’s see how you can avoid scams as a buyer.

1. Check Out Feedback Before Purchasing

Always check the seller’s feedback score and look for those with high scores and positive ratings from previous buyers. A high score, in most cases, shows that the seller has successfully delivered the product and that customers are happy.

On the other hand, avoid sellers with bad feedback or suspicious-looking reviews that don’t match the product description.

Read Listings Carefully

2. Read the item description carefully before making a purchase.

You can spot fraudulent listings by checking for any discrepancies between the item description and the photos provided, and if you have any questions about the item, contact the seller through eBay’s messaging system to clarify.

Also, confirm if there are listing fees or additional shipping costs attached to the item.

3. Never Agree to a Deal Outside eBay

Avoid any seller who asks you to make a payment outside of eBay’s payment system.

Some might persist and offer to sell an item at a reduced price if you agree to purchase outside of eBay – that’s a clear-cut scam alert.

They intend to take your money without delivering the item.

4. Check the Email Address Sending You Emails

Scammers often use fake email addresses to impersonate eBay or PayPal, attempting to trick buyers into revealing their personal information.

eBay or PayPal will never contact you and ask for your login details. So make sure to report and block any suspicious emails you receive.

How Can You Tell if an eBay Seller Is Legit?

Several things can distinguish a legitimate seller from a scammer. We’ll list three of them that can show you if an eBay seller is legit.

Check Their Feedback

We don’t advise purchasing from a seller with a score below average.

For popular items, check for positive feedback ratings above 90% in the past 12 months and read the reviews to know why that seller has such a high score.

We also recommend reading the worst comment on the seller’s review to see if they resolved it. If you find a pattern around similar unresolved issues, you should question the integrity of such a seller.

Google the Image to See if it’s a Stock Image

Google the image of the item for sale on the seller’s page. If the image is a stock image or appears on multiple websites, it could be a sign that the seller isn’t legitimate. This is because legitimate sellers typically use images of the actual item they’re selling.

Related: If you’re a seller, check out the best cameras for eBay product photography.

Compare the Price to Other Sellers

Some scammers tend to sell expensive items at significantly attractive prices. For instance, they can offer a refurbished iPhone for $5 with the promise that it’s fully functional, while its market price is over $300. This is a scam to hook unsuspecting buyers.

What is the Safest Way to Buy on eBay?

The safest way to buy on eBay is with PayPal. So far, its ruthless tolerance for scammers has helped give legit buyers a fighting chance.

PayPal allows you to request a chargeback if you don’t receive your order within the estimated duration. And if the seller can’t resolve the issue, you’ll get a refund for the cost of the item for sale and the delivery fee.

Sellers with regular incidents like this usually get flagged by PayPal and eBay, preventing you from ever ordering from them again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is Safer: Amazon or eBay?

Amazon is safer since they handle the transactions themselves.

Unlike eBay, which allows direct transactions between the buyer and seller, Amazon facilitates communication.

So, you communicate directly with Amazon as a buyer or seller, making it easy to prevent scams.

Besides this, they both offer similar levels of safeguarding.

Wrapping Up

Ecommerce requires taking careful measures to reduce exposure to scams.

While there are far too many scammers on eBay pretending to be buyers or sellers, you can follow several precautions to ensure you get the best experience using the platform.

Let us know your thoughts on buying or selling on eBay in the comment section below.

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