Is eBay safe?
We say yes.
As with any e-commerce or bidding platform, things can happen.
What most people should understand is that safety is a partnership.
Yes, eBay will take all the cyber precautions and create policies to protect both buyers and sellers from fraud and address these issues from all angles.
At the end of the day, though, the buyer and seller must take responsibility on their end.
Here are ten reasons to trust eBay and what you can do to be safe.
Is eBay Safe? (10 Reasons It Is)
1. Safe Site Security
The first layer of security for eBay or any e-commerce site includes the certificates and cybersecurity team, of which they have both.
They have an SSL padlock in the URL.
Therefore, if you get a communication such as an email with a link to the site in it, you can look for the padlock at the left of the URL.
Click the link directly and it should tell you that the URL belongs to eBay and the certificate is valid.
Spoofed sites are getting craftier and these days, you must take personal responsibility for going several steps further to verify any communication, including forwarding it to eBay.
2. Safe For Buyers
Buyers have a double layer of protection when it comes to buying anything on eBay.
They work in tandem with the PayPal platform to make sure transactions have little chance of corruption.
Some people believe that eBay is only safe for the buyer and not the seller.
That’s not entirely true.
Here’s where this perspective comes from.
When you buy on eBay or any other site, you’re basically only responsible for browsing a product and buying it.
Of course, you have to do your due diligence and read reviews and such to make sure you’re buying from the best possible source, but the seller has other dilemmas.
When you sell products, you’re selling to multiple people with a lot of responsibility.
They have to be sure the product looks as it is, and the description must also be on point.
The requirements to sell are many, and the seller must be sure their shop meets all those requirements at all times and with all customers.
The seller also has to be prepared for complaints and bad reviews, which will impact their business reputation, hence affecting future sales.
Bad reviews don’t always mean the seller is at fault.
They then have to recover from that review.
The seller has to deal with returns and exchanges and more.
Bad third-party suppliers are one of the most challenging parts of dealing with this type of business.
Any bidding, e-commerce, or drop shipping company, all of which are on eBay, will suffer fraud at least once if they’re new and inexperienced.
Today, people are into the gig economy, and many of the most popular freelance businesses can be found on eBay.
They all include risk.
Now to address eBay being better for the buyer and not the seller.
eBay has to go along with its own policies and steps needed to satisfy the customer first.
This actually works in favor of the seller if they’ve followed all the requirements set out by eBay.
Let’s look at this from a chicken and egg perspective.
The seller doesn’t have a business if the customers aren’t there to buy.
This is not to say that eBay cares more about the buyer than the seller because they have something against the seller.
In our opinion, it’s the logical action to take to make sure that the customers who make the money for your business are taken care of.
The cybersecurity part is equally beneficial for both the buying and selling part of the platform.
3. Buying & Selling Safely On eBay
Here are some tips for buyers on eBay.
When buying on eBay, you would use the same common sense you would on any e-commerce site.
Giant e-commerce and bidding sites are crowded with both buyers and sellers.
Though the best safety measures are in place, there has to be some awareness.
Follow these best practices to stay safe.
- Not all that glitters is gold. It could be gold plated! This means, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let the hunger for a bargain overtake your mind so that you make a bad choice.
- If you’re selling, make sure that your products are what they say they are. This means that, if you’re selling from a third party, be sure that what you’re describing in your listing is really what it is. There can be a lot of counterfeit things that sellers aren’t aware of, so take charge from the beginning and check the ingredients or materials of your listed items are correct. You don’t want an aware buyer pointing out something that you had no idea was a fake. It’s embarrassing and hurts your business unnecessarily.
- Buyers should be researching sellers prior to buying. eBay has a really good rating system. It’s not simply a generic star system. The star rating is based on the star scores for each category such as shipping time, communication, item as described, and shipping and handling charges.
- Read the description fully, and don’t just pay attention to the picture. Yes, you want to be sure of what it looks like, but scammers tend to bank on the idea that you won’t read the description all the way through because you’re mesmerized by the image.
4. Strict Policy Against Off-Platform Contact
For some, this is an unpopular policy.
Sellers want to build a business and like to build a mailing list.
Those are the honest ones.
However, the rule is in place for the not-so-honest sellers.
It should be highly suspicious if a seller or buyer asks you to do business or especially handle payment off the platform.
The platform is there to protect you.
People run into issues of money or products lost to a scammer.
The seller or buyer may get their account suspended or banned, but maybe not.
It depends on the specifics of the case, but there’s one thing for sure: they can’t do anything about it after the fact unless you stayed on the platform.
There are common scams that occur once a buyer or seller takes you away from the island of safety that is eBay.
The most common scams are in the payment structure that the criminals lure people off the platform for.
The most common scam that’s been done on eBay, and practically every e-commerce and bidding site out there, is the overpayment scam.
How this happens is the buyer will tell the seller, “Hey, come off the platform, and we can take care of the payment via check.”
They do send you one for well over the amount you’re selling the item for, but the check will never clear, and they’ve instructed you to just send the package out.
There are two things wrong with the whole communication.
First, who goes on a bidding site?
They are people who want quality goods for the least money.
eBay is not the place to offer more money than what they’re selling it for.
The second thing wrong is that you’ve agreed to send goods out to a stranger you don’t know before you have your money.
This happens purely because people love to make a great deal that benefits them.
Unfortunately, it backfires.
eBay knows this and the “no off-platform” policy protects you.
It’s not because they want to make money from fees on the platform.
Those fees won’t equal the loss when people get ripped off and leave the platform.
5. Strict Grievance Response Policy
eBay wants its millions of buyers to have as seamless a shopping and bidding experience as possible.
There’s nothing more frustrating to a buyer than to receive a purchase and discover there’s an issue.
It will also make the buyer leave a bad review and not return.
eBay doesn’t like bad press due to careless sellers.
Therefore, eBay is strict about how quickly the seller must engage the buyer after a grievance has been filed with them.
The grievance policy eBay has set in place is as follows.
If you are the buyer who has found the item was not as described or it violates any other point that eBay recognizes, then you may be eligible for eBay buyer protection.
First, you must go through the proper process.
- Contact the seller through eBay.
- If the seller doesn’t respond within three business days—meaning if you contact them on Friday, the seller can legally contact you back by Tuesday of the following week—eBay will take over.
- Go to the resolution center and follow the instructions for dispute.
The buyer protection only gives you the original purchase price plus applicable shipping if you didn’t receive the item and or it was not as described.
Anything else will go through a short arbitration process and will be handled according to the eBay policy that aptly fits your unique circumstance.
6. Watches Carefully For Duplicate Accounts
This is one of the stricter policies in place to keep people safe.
Sellers or buyers will sometimes create duplicate accounts to get around suspensions, restrictions, or buying and selling limits, and to illegally use a feature on the site.
Once this is found, all the accounts, including the original, are quickly shut down without notice, and the buyer or seller will not be permitted to return.
7. Restricts The Sale Of User IDs And Accounts
The transference of a user ID or an account is strictly prohibited unless you gain permission from eBay.
However, in their own policies, they say you can’t do it at all.
There’s some conflicting information out there, so make sure you only get your information from the official eBay site on the policy page instead of blogs or forums.
Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of doing the wrong thing via outdated or wrong advice.
8. Strictly Prohibits Scraping
Many reading this will not know what scraping is.
In terms of technology, it means data scraping.
People will scrape data, which may certainly include the buying habits and information from an e-commerce website like eBay to transfer to another for their own gain.
This can also cause major security risks and privacy breaches if it goes unchecked.
Therefore, eBay makes sure this is strictly forbidden, and they will ban people for doing it.
9. Wide Blanket Of Possible Violations
If you look at eBay policies, they can be quite broad as far as explaining what you can and cannot do.
This isn’t a trick.
It’s done for a reason, but people will comment that it seems odd, so we’ll explain.
Below is the quoted policy for using eBay’s site features: “(Members must) Comply with our policies about how they use our site features.”
“Members should only use eBay site features and processes for their intended purpose” and “Members must not do anything that might compromise the safety or integrity of the eBay marketplace.”
They don’t give much more of an itemized explanation than that to point out what the features are and how you would be using them outside of their intended purpose.
The fact is that eBay is a large platform with millions of people using it at any given time.
Anyone at any time, whether they are sellers or buyers, can make a mistake or do something that is in a gray area within the policies that most probably aren’t aware of.
The second policy above, regarding the safety and integrity of the eBay marketplace, would be easier to figure out than the first policy statement.
Obviously, you would know if you were cyber attacking the company in some way or ripping off a buyer or seller.
Let’s address the second policy statement. In truth, most people won’t even read all of the policies.
All people are worried about are the obvious things like the points that are outlined in the review list, if the product is as described, and shipping time and communication.
Everyone knows about the common-sense ones like scamming.
When someone hits a gray area, a company as large as eBay has to be able to make an executive call and decide how to judge an action by a seller or a buyer and resolve it correctly.
10. Strict Bidding Policy
eBay is more than an e-commerce site, it’s a bidding site which puts it in a whole other category than just buying and selling.
It means there’s more to control.
This is why eBay doesn’t allow sellers to bid on their own items.
People have tried it.
They still do according to some comments in forums out there, and they don’t last long.
That’s how safe eBay really is.
When you think about it, they’ve been around a long time with millions of users and new buyers and sellers joining daily.
However, eBay catches people doing all the tricks that other sites struggle to control.
If people can’t do it themselves, they’ll pay someone on Fiverr or other freelance sites to bid on their stuff, and they will send them a product for reviews, and the list goes on.
The bottom line is, if eBay wasn’t safe, every occurrence on this list alone would have shut them down.
How do you keep track of all these people as a company this size?
You pay well for IT, cybersecurity, programmers, conflict resolution teams, and a superior help desk.
11. Does Not Allow Relisting Of Products That Were Previously Banned
If a seller attempts to relist an item that was banned by eBay which violated eBay’s policies, how does this keep you safe?
If you read the entire list of restricted or prohibited items on eBay, you’ll understand why.
For instance, you’ll find things like drug paraphernalia and firearms, things that may pose an issue because they’re either illegal or they may not be safety compliant and pose a physical safety issue.
Also, understand that eBay is an international company with 190 markets all over the globe.
There are laws that differ in what you can possess from state to state and sometimes from county to county.
Now, expand that to the world.
They’ve been able to fully function successfully for many years at that level.
They’re not doing something right, they’re doing a lot of things right, and the buyers and sellers enjoy a safe and legitimate bidding business.