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Mon Mar 3 2008 14:31:23

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

By: Ina Steiner

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To nobody's surprise, eBay announced that they will be expanding their SMI (Safeguarding Member ID) project to all auction-style listings on the site. Previously SMI had been used on listings of $200 or more. EBay Australia made a similar change to its site over 2 weeks ago.

Ebay spokesperson Nichola Sharpe also provided us this background:

This is part of our overall commitment to making a material difference to tackling online fraud on eBay.

As eBay continues to grow into a global online marketplace we are a natural target for online fraudsters. We need to continue to stay one step ahead of their increasingly sophisticated attempts to defraud our customers.

This initiative directly improves an existing safety feature we already had in place to prevent online fraudsters from guessing our users email addresses.

 We've found that a high percentage of eBay buyers and sellers have nearly identical email addresses to their eBay User ID. This made it very easy for online fraudsters to guess email addresses and pose as genuine sellers, convincing people into a fraudulent transaction and sending their money to them - what we call at eBay, 'fake Second Chance Offers'.

For over a year now, we had the first phase of this safety feature in place, where we were able to mask the full identities of the buyer's bidding on an eBay transaction but still give the buyers some transparency they requested. This was only effective for auction-style listings of $200 or greater on eBay.com.  
 
As this first phase has proved very successful in decreasing the amount of buyers being targeted by online fraudsters, we are now increasing this safety measure to cover all auction-style listings. Also, we have noticed fraudsters are increasingly targeting auction-listings of lower amounts.

This also provides a benefit to the majority of trustworthy sellers as their buyers are less likely to be targeted by online fraudsters and lured away from the safe confines of the eBay site and the great customer service they will deliver.

On-going consumer education is also key, so we are constantly educating both buyers and sellers about the importance of unique email addresses and have aggressively targeted our eBay users who have more risky ones.

So what do you think? Has SMI been successful, and will it provide protection to bidders on eBay? 




Comments (45) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Greg

Mon Mar 3 15:09:11 2008

It may work for stopping phony second chance offers but it's widely held that this practice has made it nearly impossible for a buyer to determine if they are being shilled. eBay claims that they have systems in place to prevent shill bidding but evidence of it exist daily in auction format. buyers come to the discussion boards quite frequently to complain about shilling and now it's probably going to become even more frequent.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: dimes

Mon Mar 3 15:37:00 2008

You mean the Shill Masking Initiative?

I can see why eBay is so fond of it.  The rest of us, not so much.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Mon Mar 3 15:46:47 2008

Well, forget about ebay now. I hate the private bidding thing anyway and avoided those auctions. Now I will not buy on ebay anymore. That is the last straw. Ebay sucks, what the he** are they doing trying to ruin their business? If they wanted to solve the problem they could have just gotten rid of the second chance offer thing, which I persnally never used anyway.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Trish

Mon Mar 3 16:04:50 2008

Don't forget that ebay wants to do away with auction style listings, anyway. This may be a move towards that?? Anyway, I think that once again, they are cutting their own throats and the throats of sellers. I can't tell you how many items I've found by clicking on another bidders feedback and following through to other sellers. Perhaps also another way to be rid of the auction style SELLERS??

Down down the rabbit hole....

Nice stock prices today, ebay!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: DJ

Mon Mar 3 16:07:32 2008

What the heck...why just keep kicking us when we are already down?
eBay can never be the same! I will never buy or sell there again! I am heart broken, angry and shocked at all of the stupid decisions they have made! I'm done with eBay for good!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: CEP

Mon Mar 3 16:27:07 2008

Not my idea here but thought i'd throw it out.

To get rid of second chance fraud offers you simply get rid of the second chance offer.

This will lead to a whole bunch of shill bidding, That of course doesnt matter to ebay as the shills drive cost so goes the FVF's for ebat. Another way to squeeze the blood out of us all.

This is all finally coming home to investors. Wonder what we'll have to make NOISE about tomorrow.

I've had it with you Donohoe and will actively work in anyway I can to bring your job to a end. What you have done over the last few weeks will reserve a place for you in a very warm place. Theres a seat there for you, right next to Meg. You'll ruin and break up this company like you did the last one and sell the parts off.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Skip

Mon Mar 3 17:10:56 2008

As someone already mentioned, the solution to eliminating fraudulent second chance offers (SCOs) would be to eliminate SCOs.  

I assume every SCO is a result of shill bidding (whether that is the case or not), and never accept a SCO.

The solution to eliminating the fraudulent phishing messages is pretty simple.  If eBay only sent a message to the user that said to check their eBay messages while logged onto eBay, it would eliminated almost all fraudulent phishing emails and fraudulent offers.  Simple solution.  

EBay has essentially sanctioned shill bidding by hiding all the userids (from everyone but the seller).  Because eBay allows just about as many userids as someone wants to have, it makes it easier yet for dishonest sellers to have shill bidding on their items.  It will be very difficult for buyers to report shill bidding to eBay now.

A very bad idea from eBay.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: bucketslogg

Mon Mar 3 17:28:03 2008

Just when you think they can't pile **IT any higher...  I wonder if ebay is really, really thinking that people are buying all the malarkey they put out?

Not for nothing... it makes excellent drama.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: catboy33

Mon Mar 3 17:39:16 2008

I truly believe ebay thinks we are a bunch of dopes. This has nothing to do with our safety, but are scared of losing revenue from offline dealings. It's all about them making every penny possible, period!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: P.A.K.

Mon Mar 3 17:48:10 2008

Joined eBay in 2000.

We ceased our ''over $200'' buying when SMI was first introduced in Jan. 2007, ceased selling shortly thereafter. We sold/bought mostly in the higher end vintage porcelain/pottery categories.

Since the implementation of Shilling Made Incognito, we've refused to ''bid blindly'' on their site, contrary to eBay's FALSE spin of...''These changes did not reduce bidding on auction listings above $200...''

We are not alone. MANY collectors who used to shop that collectible category have taken their hard earned money elsewhere.

Can't blame them. If WE don't trust the hidden ID system as a buyer, we can't expect others to bid blindly when we're the seller.

It appears ol' granny was right all along...''You can't fix stupid''.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Mike

Mon Mar 3 18:05:04 2008

No more ebay , I've had enough !! You got rid of all the good sellers , you can stop now !!! Just make sure you keep the crooks on your site , they still have alot of fools there to feed off of , Nice stock quote today , keep up the good work Dumbhoe , won't be to much longer and I can buy it in the pennystocks !!!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Tim

Mon Mar 3 19:04:16 2008

I am convinced eBay management is trying to put itself out of business.

One of the biggest thrills of an auction, for a lot of people, is how fun it is.  They track the auction and the bidders.  They even get to recognize other bidders.  This is now gone.

In its place is a system that bidders will find suspicious and they think will open the process up to shill bidders.

Super idea eBay: eliminate the fun aspect of auctions and increase the suspicious aspect of auctions!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: mysteryseller

Mon Mar 3 19:29:42 2008

Maybe they should make it so we are all "mystery sellers" and can't post our names or logos...you know, for our own protection. And, we'll all have "mystery paypal accounts"...."yes, of course I'm verified, but shhhhh, it's a secret". And, we can only sell "mystery merchandise", so there will be no more confusion with messy pictures and item descriptions, and ebay will declare that it will be a much better experience for the buyer, because there will be a surprise in every package!

Darn, I hope I didn't give Donahoe any more bright ideas...he seems to be burying ebay quite nicely all on his own!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Trish

Mon Mar 3 19:33:23 2008

Just another question...I know, I know...I'm only a lowly seller, how dare I ask....

Exactly how is ebay going to protect us against shilling when the only safeguards they ever really had were the reports from other bidders??

hmph!

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Jeff

Mon Mar 3 20:15:12 2008

''Exactly how is ebay going to protect us against shilling when the only safeguards they ever really had were the reports from other bidders??''

I'm assuming it will be by IP address cross referencing. That's all it can be. Look for patterns of an IP addresses constantly bidding on items from the same IP address, or constant bidding from one IP to a different IP.

The IP address is all they really have to work with.

They should just scrap the stupid f**k fake names, and just use a number like they did originally. Either way, it's useless.

Once again, it's a stupid change, but I still find the increased fees to be the biggest insult as a seller. The Feedback change doesn't bother me.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Laura

Mon Mar 3 20:51:10 2008

In the past I used my ability to see a bidders ID as a way of generating sales and interest on my items. So I am disappointed to see it go.
When the item I am listing is rare, I wait until an auction closed that just sold one similar to the one I have. Then I email all the buyers that bid (and lost) and tell them I just listed the exact item and give them the item number.
The buyers are so thankful for this service that I will no longer be able to provide.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: dimes

Mon Mar 3 23:07:55 2008

"Exactly how is ebay going to protect us against shilling when the only safeguards they ever really had were the reports from other bidders??"

By ensuring that cautious buyers will make only the initial bid on an item.  Multiple bids will become a thing of the past once buyers see that mystery ID's are bidding against them.

You're much less likely to encounter a shill bidding situation when listings end with only one bid.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Mar 4 00:18:30 2008

Does anyone remember a report auctionbytes carried several months about some ebay wunderkind stating that one of ebay's goals was to raise the average selling price?

Taking ebay one step more away from the "transparent" marketplace these shysters prattled on about for so long will accomplish just that.

What is WRONG with these people? Is there something wrong with their imported bottled water that makes them stupid?

Another thing we can all count on is that if ebay makes a change and tells us it's to reduce fraud, what they mean is they want to eliminate OUTSIDE fraud but have no problem with the inside fraud of shill bidding. There will be NO fraud on the ebay site that ebay doesn't get a cut of.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Ray

Tue Mar 4 08:02:23 2008

I read about the SMI expansion and agree it will increase shill bidding.  Two years ago I caught a not very smart seller who used his wife's account to try and get me up to my max bid.  Unfortunately for him I was only bidding .25 or so over the starting bid.  EBay says it's also worried about the similarity between usernames and email addresses.  Make people change their usernames!!  They did that to me years ago.  Of course the default new name they offered was just my email addy with a number after it.

eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings   eBay Expands SMI to All Auction-Style Listings

by: Pat Pitcher

Tue Mar 4 10:07:27 2008

Just another example of how far ebay has its head up its own butt. Typical complicated and incorrect fix to simple problem. If fake 2nd chance offers are a problem, then GET RID OF THAT USELESS FEATURE. Never mind fiddling where no fiddling is necessary. This is going to drive down final prices.......what kind of moron can't see that!  I'm disgusted beyond belief. If there was  somewhere decent to go, I would be gone!

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