Is eBay Safe? Essential Tips for Buying and Selling

Find out everything you need to know about staying safe on eBay in 2020

Adam Eleiko
Adam Eleiko
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Is eBay Safe? Essential Tips for Buying and Selling

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How safe is eBay, exactly? Well, it depends a bit on who’s asking. And there are two main groups.

Are you new to the platform and are looking to make your very first purchase? Maybe you’re horrified by all the stories you’ve been hearing about scams and fraudulent dealings in virtual marketplaces ? Perhaps even burned in the past yourself, begging the question, will it be a different experience this time? Is it safe to purchase from eBay?

Or maybe, like most of our visitors here at SaleSource, you’re scanning the horizon for ways to make money online? Questions you might be asking are: Can I trust eBay to handle my selling activity for me? Is eBay safe enough to be a big source of my livelihood?

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Truth be told, eBay has been dealing with fraudulent and unethical activity since the very beginning. The company hasn’t taken things lightly, constantly monitoring and taking action. They have even set up departments and dedicated services for fraud protection, dispute resolutions, investigations, and such.

Join us as we dig deeper starting with buying on eBay...

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eBay Safety Tips for Buyers

It might be a fantastic platform to find really cool items and bargain buys. But, the question remains: Is it safe to purchase from eBay?

At first glance, it could seem very simple to start accumulating stuff from eBay--create an account, set up and link PayPal, and buy, buy, buy the products you’re interested in!

However, eBay isn’t like, say, Amazon, in that most items are actually on auction for certain periods of time. Also, both Amazon and eBay don't allow dropshipping on their platforms. While some products up for acquisition have a Buy It Now option but are priced way higher than others. What’s more is, listings with almost identical product titles might, in fact, be light-years different from each other in terms of item conditions, shipping fees, return policies, etc!

Truly discerning buyers should know there are certain things you must watch out for before hitting that take my money button. Here are some of our tips to make buying on eBay safe and carefree:

Are you actually on eBay?

Perhaps you landed on an eBay product from a link in an email or from a link in an online forum. The first thing you might want to do is check whether you’re actually on an eBay page and not on a phishing site.

Stay in the system

You’re in the eBay system. When a seller asks you to take the transaction elsewhere, decide to keep transactions within the system. After all, eBay security features don’t protect you outside their platform.

Keep payment information confidential

Your browser and other computer software might offer to save your payment information to make purchasing on sites like eBay much quicker in the future. Just say no. It’s easier to just re-type all those numbers than going through a complaint resolution process.

Know exactly what you're buying

  • Product description and item specifics. Understand thoroughly what’s being sold so you are sure you’re buying precisely what you want.
  • Product photos. Put more weight to listings with unique and actual item photos.
  • Product condition. eBay allows items of different conditions to be listed on their site. Take this information and counter check with the listing’s photos. For more information about item conditions, check this eBay article.
  • Product ratings and reviews. Products that have been sold again and again on eBay mostly likely have been rated and reviewed by past buyers. This is also packed with information that matters to people like you.

Assess all relevant bid policies

Are you comfortable with the shipping policy? Are you happy with the delivery process?

Is the return policy acceptable? Note that some sellers do not allow returns.

Evaluate seller reputation

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  • Seller rating. As with any other platform where reputation matters, you’ll see a rating here right below the seller’s username. You’ll want a seller who has consistently given a positive experience to his customers, preferably at the high 90% range.
  • Detailed seller activity information. Clicking on the seller’s username as well as the seller’s feedback rating (the number beside the username) will lead you to more detailed information about the seller on the eBay platform. Take time to read through and if you see any questionable activity, stay away or at least be extra cautious.
ebay store

Pay through PayPal

There are several payment options when making a purchase on eBay including wire transfer and cash-on-delivery. Whenever possible, pay with PayPal as it is the preferred payment method on the website.

Communicate with the seller when needed

Fulfillment not going as expected or there’s a problem with the order? Contact the seller. eBay has made the messaging system quite healthy and conducive to resolving issues between buyers and sellers. Use it to your advantage whenever required.

Log out!

Done with your purchase or even just your online virtual shopping on eBay? Log out of your account especially when you’re using a shared or public computer.

Report fraudulent charges

Hit with a fraudulent charge or there’s something you don’t quite recognize in your billing statement? Your credit card company/bank can help you reverse a charge. If you used PayPal, refer to the Security and Protection link in your account.

eBay Customer Service is here to help

Issues with sellers unresolved? As discussed above, communication with the seller might be key.

If all else fails, there’s the customer service.

Make sure to keep all the tips above to heart and you’ll be sure your eBay transactions are worry-free. Or at the very least, you’ll get your money back.

Now let’s look at safety tips for when you want to sell your wares on eBay…

Also read:20 of the Best Products to Sell on Amazon Right Now

eBay Safety Tips for Sellers

Is eBay reliable as a selling platform? Are sellers protected enough so they can spend more time developing and selling listings instead of getting tangled in too many disputes and investigations?

A couple things
  • Some products are perfect on eBay while other products have sellers practically asking to be scammed, e.g. inexpensive kitchen items vs gift cards;
  • eBay has developed its site and service to be more and more reliable for buyers, i.e. during disputes, sellers end up exerting more effort into proving they delivered their end of the bargain.

This doesn’t mean selling on eBay is an absolute no-no. It simply means you’ll be a lot more successful on the platform if you follow guidelines to a tee and take extra precautions you should be taking anyway even if you’re selling elsewhere.

Opt for lower-priced items

A lot of the buyer-initiated scams on eBay have involved higher-ticket items. It is mainly scammers taking advantage of eBay’s protection policy for items $25 and up but also because the higher price tags help them make more money with the racket.

kitchen utensils

Especially if you’re just starting out as an eBay seller, go for products that sell for $20 or less per unit. This can be anything from kitchen supplies to school supplies to accessories.

Complete product listings

Make sure you don’t intentionally leave out important details in your product listings. Keep updating your listings with any new information that might come up. Accuracy matters and protects so as long as you fully describe what you’re selling, you should be okay.

Also Read:Is Aliexpress Safe? Everything You Need To Know To Shop Safely & Effectively

Keep all the fulfillment information

During a dispute where a buyer might claim not having received an item, it is the seller’s responsibility to prove that the item was, in fact, shipped and received.

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Keep as much information about the shipment as possible. This gets particularly easier when the seller has built an actual relationship with the courier company.

Keep abreast of scams

As a responsible entrepreneur, you’ll want to be consuming a ton of content regularly to keep you on top of the game.

One of the subtopics you should be constantly reading on are tales of buyer scams on eBay.

There’s one where a buyer purchased a gadget, received it, changed all the internal parts, returned it, and eBay somehow sided with him citing the policy around the item described must be exactly the item shipped and received. Trust us, a lot of these stories you can learn from AND also be entertained by.

Take advantage of Tools

If you’re an honest and reliable seller on eBay, or plan to be if you haven’t started, one thing that data allows you to do is gather information around which items/products you should be selling if you want less drama and disputes.

Enter, tools. There’s a ton of tools available, mostly for listing management.

Check out eBay’s Seller Hub and start using it today.

How safe is eBay? - Final Words

eBay is quite safe all-around given how the company itself has taken steps through the last couple of decades to make sure their policies are solid while also educating their users around safely transacting within their platform.

Buyers are pretty much protected and have the luxury of being able to search through the site to find that perfect well-reviewed product from that perfect well-reviewed listing.

For sellers, you just need a little bit of extra effort when setting up and maintaining your store. Outside the platform, you should be as cautious as possible anyway.

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Adam Eleiko
Adam Eleiko
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