EBay traders rely on their feedback reputation as much as they rely on their goods. Feedback amounts to the comments that both buyers and sellers leave on the transaction. The better your feedback reputation the more people will trust you as a buyer and seller. Straightforward enough, you say. But some unscrupulous sellers manipulate their feedback to gain their buyer’s trust. Once they have that trust, they start ripping off buyers.
How Do They Do It?
Feedback Fraud –
A seller sets up multiple EBay accounts. He then buys and sells items between his identities, making sure to leave positive feedback to make himself look trustworthy.
Purchasing Feedback –
EBay has cracked down on this. However, a simple search shows that it still goes on. A buyer purchases a low price item, say under £1, in return for positive feedback to build up their rating. These £1 friends help schew the true feedback status.
Stealing Feedback –
An unscrupulous dealer may hijack an account. After he does so, he can use its good reputation to scam unsuspecting buyers. This usually occurs after someone has been tricked into entering their password at a counterfeit EBay site. The link to the phony EBay
site usually arrives in a phishing e-mail.
How To Avoid Being Scammed –
An important thing to in any EBay transaction is to check the other party’s feedback. Try and avoid a seller who has a large negative, or even neutral, feedback rating. Be especially careful if your purchase is an expensive item.
Things to Look Out For –
* Check the IDs leaving feedback. If there are many from the same ID, alarm bells should ring that the seller might be purchasing feedback.
* What items are the feedback for? A hard sell of Very low-priced items and a sudden change to the seller promoting expensive laptops, you should be suspicious. Check by clicking on the item link – it will show you the auction and winning bid prices within the last couple of months. Pay attention to both.
* Is the feedback for buying or selling? If it’s all been for buying items and suddenly the person is selling, be careful. Watch out for novice sellers and treat them as a seller with zero feedback.
* Look for the Buy Safe seal. It means that the seller has been vetted and approved by an independent company called Buy Safe. But some legitimate sellers even don’t use this.
What To Do If You’re Scammed –
You should report the incident to EBay, and also to Paypal, if need be. This offers you some recourse, and means you can file an insurance claim through them. Online auctions are like car boot sales. It’s a case of caveat emptor, buyer beware.
EBay suspends accounts where feedback manipulation is obvious. They have stated, however, that it’s a grey area. SquareTrade is a mediation service that tries to resolve buyer/seller problems. But if it’s a scam that has caused the problem, they may not be able to assist.
EBay states that only 0.01% of the transactions on its site are scams. They do their best to police them. And certainly, the vast majority of people experience no problems.
Remember to do your homework before bidding on an item, especially an expensive one.
Emily Banks/Freelance Writer. Why not visit Buzzed Up?