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How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Ebay Buyer's Fraud.

From everything you've heard about the risk of fraud on eBay, you might think it's only buyers getting scammed – but you couldn't be more wrong. Here are a few common scams that sellers fall for every day.

The Rubber Cheque.

This one obviously isn't limited to eBay – it's been going on for years in all kinds of business. It works like this: a buyer sends you a cheque that they don't have the funds to cover and you pay it in your bank. You then send the goods right away, only to find out a few days later that the cheque bounced.

The solution to this is simple: don't send anything to a buyer until their payment has cleared, no matter how quickly they might say they need it. Advise them to pay electronically if they don't want to wait so long for their items. Then again, if your items are quite small, you could just take the loss from an occasional bounced cheque. Think of it as a small price to pay for faster and better customer service.

'I Never Bought Anything!'

This is one of the riskiest scams to fall victim to. In this case, the credit card's real owner still has control over it – no-one has stolen their details. They have realised, however, that they can phone up the bank who issued their card to say that it's being used fraudulently and they never bought any such thing, and the bank will often reverse the transaction without even investigating. The only way to beat this scam is to make all your sales through eBay, as they keep a record of transactions.

The Unconfirmed Address.

It is quite easy to steal PayPal accounts from inexperienced users: all you need, after all, is their email address and password. PayPal tries to protect against credit cards registered on stolen accounts being used to buy things by listing a 'confirmed address' for each buyer – an address that matches what is registered with their credit card issuer.

What many scammers will do is ask you to ship to a different address – unless you're very sure of them, this is a bad idea, as they could be trying to commit credit card fraud. Be especially suspicious of anyone who wants to pay a higher price and get overnight shipping, especially if not even to the same country as the confirmed address. The fraudster is trying to make sure the item reaches them before they are discovered.

It's up to you to take responsibility for fraud on PayPal, as eBay's favourite way to refund fraudulent payments to their rightful owner is to just reverse it from you! This is considered an occupational risk of PayPal usage, and sellers who get burned severely sometimes go as far as moving to a rival electronic payment service. See http://www.nopaypal.com for more.

In the next email, we'll take a closer look at PayPal, and ask: should it be the only kind of payment you accept?

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