Friends don't let friends share IP addresses. Here's a reminder for online sellers as you prepare to travel or host friends and family for the holidays.
eBay sellers have reported incorrect account linking over the years that have resulted in account suspensions, and not surprisingly it has spread to other marketplaces. As you prepare to travel or host family and friends for Thanksgiving and the holidays, it's a problem you should become familiar with and remain on your guard.
In the last week we have heard from two sellers on Amazon and Etsy who say the marketplaces suspended their accounts because of the activity of someone else whose account got linked to theirs.
A reader said Etsy closed her shop because a person using the same IP address violated a policy - "they won't give you a chance to send documentation proving I am not related to the offending shop," she said.
Another reader said Amazon sent him the following message last week: "We found that your account may be related to an account that cannot be used to sell on our site. As a result, you currently may not sell on Amazon.com."
He said he has been selling on the same Amazon account for many years and had never had another Amazon.com account. He submitted information in an appeal to the Seller Performance Team at Amazon and is awaiting their reply. "I'm sure that its it just a matter of time for them to review the appeal and reinstate my selling privileges. Unfortunately this happened at one of the worst possible times of the year - right in the middle of the holiday season. Every day that they "review" the appeal puts an enormous financial strain on my small business. And if this issue isn't resolved before Black Friday/Cyber Monday, it would be a catastrophe - jeopardizing the future of my business."
on the Amazon discussion boards holds out little hope for sellers who receive such a notice. Those familiar with the issue say Amazon does not disclose the identity of the linked account, which makes it difficult if not impossible to challenge. The seller who initiated the thread in June received a denial of his appeal that included this generic statement: "We found that your account is related to another account that may not be used to sell on the site. Due to the nature of our business, we do not provide details on our investigation methods."
There's another twist on this problem: in this thread
from 3 years ago, a seller said eBay had linked her account with her adult step-son's account just because he had logged in from her home when visiting, and it had taken out money from her PayPal account for his eBay activity.
Sellers who have posted about such cases say marketplaces use IP addresses to link accounts and recommend being wary of sharing the same computer or logging in to accounts from the office. And in the case of Amazon, sellers recommend having only one selling account per household.
Travelling over the holidays raises another concern, and last year, Gizmodo
published some suggestions on how to keep safe when using public wi-fi networks whether you're at the airport or a coffee shop.
So while it may seem harmless to let your relatives use your computer to do some Black Friday shopping as they munch on Thanksgiving leftovers, it could end up giving you a case of indigestion.