Home Tips & Tricks How to Avoid Scams and Fraud on eBay

How to Avoid Scams and Fraud on eBay

eBay logo on the wall

If you plan to use eBay to sell or buy items, then you may be in danger of becoming a prey to a scammer. There have been many users that have been defrauded on this auction site, so it is very important to learn how to spot a scam so that you don’t get caught up in one.

It isn’t just the sellers who may scam a person, it is also the buyers who can do the scamming as well. Although, it isn’t just exclusive to any high-priced items, the scammers tend to go after products such as smartphones and latest gadgets that would appeal to a cyber criminal.

When common sense and a certain amount of caution is used, it may help to protect yourself by using the following tips:

Check the buyer or seller feedback

eBay seller feedback score

Every eBay member has a profile where anyone may read the feedback that has been left by any other users. All of the users will have a feedback score, which is within brackets after the user ID. The higher the number, all the better. A zero rating means this is a bad sign as it signals that the account was just opened.

The Buyer Requirements section of the eBay preferences is a great place to start. You will be able to specify what type of users you do or do not want to bid on any of your items, such as those who have negative feedback score.

eBay buyer requirements preferencies

Be sure to read the description very carefully

eBay Nintendo 3DS order page

There have been plenty of people that have been caught in a scam, simply by not reading all the details. There are many users who may think that they are purchasing a product such as a gaming system, but the image just shows the box and in the fine print it just says it is only the box for sale and there is no product inside.

Think of it this way, if it seems too good to be true, then it most likely is.

One-day listings

These items being sold as a one-day listing are normally scam. These are the dishonest sellers that want to scam you into buying their product then disappear once the payment has been sent. Be sure to avoid these.

Shipping costs

eBay shipping costs

Check all of the shipping costs and if the seller hasn’t listed them clearly, simply contact them to ask about the shipping prices to avoid any type of hidden fees.

If you happen to be a seller, then state which shipping method you offer, include the costs and stick to them.

International sellers and buyers

Be sure that sellers or bidders in the US, unless you want to ship the goods overseas. Shipping internationally allows for a bigger chance of being scammed and it isn’t as easy to track a parcel once they have left the US.

If you don’t want to sell your items to people overseas, you can state this in the preferences and also place it within the description. Although, there are some buyers that ignore this and so it is important to keep an eye on your bids in case that you need to cancel them.

If you happen to be purchasing DVDs, CDs, video games and Blu-rays that come from Asia, be warned that they are often counterfeit due to the various copyright laws.

Canceling bids for your items

If at all possible, try to monitor the bids on an item that you happen to be selling, especially right before the auction ends, so that you are able to point out any shady individuals and cancel their bids if needed.

If you don’t want to deal with the buyer because they have negative feedback, live in a country that you don’t offer shipping to, have asked you to do a deal outside of eBay, or have a low rating, then you are able to cancel their bid before the auction ends.

To cancel a bid, just head to the Managing Bidders and Buyers page on the eBay website and provide the needed information.

Blocking bidders

block bidders or buyers on eBay

If you don’t feel comfortable in selling to a certain user, you can block them by entering their user ID on the Block Bidder page.

Check the payment before sending the item

PayPal is one of the safest ways to pay, because it monitors possible fraudulent transactions, which means it is a lot easier to get your money back if you happened to be targeted by a scammer.

If you are selling an item, never send it until you have received the payment, especially if the bidder has been hassling you to send the item to them before you receive the payment.

Never agree to any deals outside of eBay, especially if they are offering you cash. You won’t be insured by eBay for these deals and you may be putting yourself at risk. Paying with a credit card can also cover you, unlike using a money transfer service, which is quite sketchy.

Get proof of the shipping

If you are using a signed for method of shipping, then you should be provided with a tracking number, but if you happen to be using regular first class or second class post, then simply ask for a proof of shipping. This will cover you in case the buyer has stated that item has not arrived.

Only send the item to the confirmed address on the winning bidder’s profile. If you are ever asked to send the item to a different address, no matter the reason, report it to eBay as it may mean that a real user account has been hacked into.

If you have offered collection, simply arrange to meet in a public place to exchange the goods and never give out your home address.


You are able to select the option on your seller profile that states you do not issue refunds. This will protect you from dodgy buyers who may try to con you by claiming that the item you sold them was broken, when you are certain that it wasn’t, and asking for a refund. Be sure that all items are packed well and securely to avoid any type of dispute.

Spoof emails

These can come in different styles and are normally made to look just like an official eBay email. The most common scam is an email that claims that you need to verify your information by using the supplied link and logging into your account. The truth is, eBay will never ask you to do this, so you can be quite positive that is a scam. If you ever receive an email like this, report it to eBay right away.

What you should do if you believe that you have been scammed

If you believe that you have been hacked, change your PayPal and eBay passwords immediately.

If the seller has not sent you the item that you have paid for, contact them first to see if the problem is able to be resolved. If not, you are able to report them to the eBay Resolution Center.

If a buyer hasn’t paid for the item after several days or you have had an issue with an item that you have sent, then try to resolve the issue with them before you report it to eBay.