Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Apr 14 2015 23:59:05

Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay sellers must deal with the reality of bad buyers - even one encounter can be costly. A gemstone seller recently described on the eBay discussion boards an experience they had with a newly registered, zero-feedback buyer based in Australia whom they accused of scamming them, and said eBay ultimately sided in favor of the buyer.

The post generated an interesting discussion, with some sellers sharing practices they have adopted to reduce incidents of buyer fraud.

For example, one seller said they never list anything they couldn't afford to lose outright, and they never list anything over $50 because there is less fraud on inexpensive items.

Some sellers also said they avoid certain categories they considered to be a magnet for fraud, including jewelry and designer handbags.

Others said they limit sales of expensive items to buyers located in North America.

Not everyone agreed - another seller said they would never limit themselves to selling only items under $50, calling it a poor business decision.

I'm curious to know what tips readers have developed to avoid buyer fraud, and to know how big a problem it is in your experience.




Comments (40) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: jacobsenra This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 00:18:43 2015

We limit our sales to the U.S. only and have our Papal account set to only accept payments from U.S. based accounts.  Setting the PayPal account was a great tip I heard from someone else and it works.  Possibly this limits a few sales but not many I can see.  We also ship higher value items signature required as suggested by PayPal.  Nothing is 100% safe but after having been in retail for many years we have had WAY fewer losses on eBay.  No shoplifting!

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 01:09:46 2015

eBay and PayPal need to take the initiative in purging bad/scammer buyers.  Individual sellers have neither the power nor resources to stop them.  

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ebayclosed2016 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 01:27:19 2015

We are occasionally the victims of fraud on ebay. 1-3 times a month on average. We don't play nice. If you steal from us you will typically regret it. We track you down, find out where you work, where your spouse works, where go to church, what business you own etc and we go to town on you. We have cost people their jobs, business accounts, and just made life miserable for a whole slew of crooks. I even mailed a post card to a school teacher letting them know what kind of scumbag their student's parents are. Basically, when you outright steal from us and take food off of my family's table, it's personal to me. I am not just an email address that is sending you free stuff. Sometimes people forget that.  

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Apr 15 07:02:06 2015

1) insure international items. I can't tell you how many international buyers we have had over the years who message us with "item not received" and when we reply stating that we insured the item and the insurance company will open an investigation if the item does not arrive---well, let's just say 9 times out of 10 the item arrives the next day.

2) Know when to use your block buyer button. I have found in my many years of selling that the more problem a buyer is before they buy, the more problem they will be after the sale

3) Don't be a pushover. Don't fear your buyer. Stand your ground.  An experienced seller will know when to do this. And no "after sale coupons"--if buyer wants a discount after the sale politely respond by saying "I am sorry you are not pleased with your widget...please send it back for a full refund.  Most buyers seeking the "after sale coupon" won't send it back.  Sellers who give after sale discounts are only enabling these types of buyers.

It goes without saying that if you are mailing a very expensive item, require a signature confirmation.  We've also never given a refund if the delivery confirmation states delivered. "Stolen off of porch" doesn't fly.

Sell on eCrater. You run your business there, and you are not under the iron fist of eBay and their lack of seller protections.

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 07:03:11 2015

There is no way to " PRACTICE SAFE SELLING ON FLEECEBAY "

Every sale you make as a very good potential to be a scammer, thief or liar that will attempt to ruin your business.

Fleecebay doesn't have the talent to weed out all the garbage as they themselves are the worst thieves on the internet.

If one sells anything worth more than 5-10 dollars and you get scammed you have no one but yourself to blame.

FYI buyers and sellers in the United States are just as bad as
those in foreign countries.

Fleecbay has coddled, bottle feed, burped and changed diapers for so many of the buyers that now the buyers have an entitled attitude.

Get off Fleecebay and sell elsewhere because you will at some point in time a victim..

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: KV This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 07:16:24 2015

The main way I protect myself is by maxing out my blocked bidder settings. I block all buyers who:

• Don't have a PayPal account
• Have received 2 unpaid item strikes within 12 months
• Have a primary shipping address in a location I don't ship to
• Have 4 Policy Violation reports within 6 months
• Have a feedback score of -1 or lower
• Are winning or have bought 1 of my items in the last 10 days and have a feedback score of 5 or lower

I also don't do auctions. I list only fixed price with immediate payment required. And I ship only to the U.S.

The target audience for my products (women's clothing) is middle-aged women. They are about the least likely to try to rip someone off. I would seriously caution someone who targeted teens or young adults. They'll do it just for the thrill.

The one time I was really a clear victim of fraud, Paypal protected me. Now I just deal with returns, which have increased from 1-2 a year to 1-2 a month.

I'd like to comment on ebayclosed2016's post. S/he didn't indicate the average selling price of a product, but that's a lot of negativity to dish out 1-3 times a month, and it can seriously backfire. It can be hard to tell when someone is trying to rip you off or when something really didn't get delivered although it was scanned delivered, or really was smashed in transit, or someone's Paypal account really did get hacked. It can result in a libel suit or worse. I routinely tell new sellers, ''Don't let eBay eat your life, because it will.'' If eBay is driving this seller to attack people week after week, s/he needs to get off the site.

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Apr 15 08:29:19 2015

I pretty well follow what KV does point for point - with the exception of occasional auctions on one account.  It seems to work out OK.

I do accept returns since I sell clothing on one account.  I had more abuse of SNAD/return requests back when I had a ''no returns'' policy.  

And, as KV mentions, I do think the demographic you sell to can make a huge difference.  



And I heartily agree with Rexford's #3 -

In the past I used wording something like this in my listings to set expectations:

''No partial refunds, if there is a problem with the item plan to return it.''

--- of course, seller can always decide to ''make an exception'' and do a partial refund, but the buyer was forewarned they would likely have to return item.

I can only remember one case of outright theft - and that involved a PayPal chargeback several years ago.

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 08:49:15 2015

DOES IT REALLY MATTER ANYMORE?
There is really nothing a honest seller can do to stop the culture of bad buyers on ebay.
Most of the buyers are okay but with ebay policies that punish you for such things as a neutral feedback or slow delivery after you ship by the USPS, or just outright thieves and scum who just leave bad feedback and open cases one right after the other, please do not be fooled by ebay telling you that they are policing bad buyers.
I have tracked a bad buyer, horrible the worst I have seen for years, he leaves a negative or neutral for half of his transactions and if he does leave a positive it will mention that seller fixed the problem after I opened a case.
If there is a class action against ebay for there policies for TRS and feedback this guy would be the king of bad buyers, he would be the star witness to prove a case against ebay.


Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: queenfloraday This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 09:49:44 2015

For International sales, I always email the buyer with the Customs label number. Even if our USPS does not track it for the consumer, it is being tracked. Once in the other country that number is still on the package and the buyer has the chance to locate it. So far, this has kept my ''lost'' packages to a minimum.  

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 10:11:54 2015


There is no way to protect yourself from buyer fraud on ebay

Out in the real world you can be careful and protect yourself, but once you are subservient to ebay and paypal policies which not only encourage fraud, but punish sellers who are victimized, sellers may delude themselves they are being proactive and careful, but that's just until its their turn in the barrel

When a buyer who has been a member for one day, can claim he received a copper penny instead of a gold coin and will win a claim against a fifteen year professional seller with 50,000 positive feedbacks you know its a rigged game

You can insure, you can ship registered mail, you can do anything you want , the buyer will win

What you can do is list low value high profit items for which you have no other outlet, thus subsidizing the inevitable and constant fraud

As fair as I'm concerened ebay / paypal have transformed the marketplace into a casino where every sale is a gamble ..

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ebayclosed2016 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 10:20:39 2015

KV, I understand what you are saying, but we are no longer going to just stand by while ebay lets buyers take advantage of us. We are not a new ebay seller by any means and this is such an overall small percentage of sales that we can take the time to focus in on a few bad apples. So far this year, buyer fraud situations have cost us over $2200 and it's only getting worse. You can go with ebay's way if you want, but the only thing they care about is trying to hold on to whatever shrinking business they have at your expense.

Libel suit? Not going to fall into that trap, but buyers sure do. Sure we have started a few and settled them all. We just settled with one buyer and their employer in January for $2000 plus attorney fees of $2300. A handy trick is that if a buyer uses their employers computer, they can be sued as well. Yes, they were really surprised that feedback does not mean outright lies.  

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: Enough Is Enough! This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 10:30:39 2015

@ebayclosed2016

WOW! I would really hate to see what you would do in a ''brick and mortar'' setting!

I state (in CAPS) ''NO PARTIAL REFUNDS'' on all of my listings. Haven't had a problem (yet, anyway) with a buyer requesting some of their money back after a sale.

And I follow a simple, basic rule, which is writing an accurate description which describes every detail of an item. Also, taking as many photos as possible is very helpful. If a buyer misses something, it's on them, not on me.

Signature (not delivery) confirmation is also required. Of course, this depends on the product category and price. I add $2.35 to the shipping cost, and state that the package will be sent requiring a signature upon delivery.

The only real problem I have had recently is from a buyer who claimed there was two of an item, when they received only one. It was listed accurately as one item, and they filed a PayPal Money Back Guarantee claim. It was a case of buyer's remorse, and they assumed they would either (1) Get the item for free, or (2) Not have to pay to return it.

They were told by PayPal to send the item (which was large and expensive to ship) back to me for a refund, at their expense. Never heard from them again......

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ebayclosed2016 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 11:08:17 2015

We have a brick and mortar business, 3 buildings actually. We had it before ebay and it will be here after ebay. We don't have problems here, because no one would walk into our store and try to return something they broke 30 days later. And no one would disassemble their item and come in a drop it on our counter and ask for all their money back. And no one would say I made a mistake, but you have to pay for it via a shipping label or you are going to get bad feedback. Things go well here, things go well on our site, things only go wrong on ebay to be quite honest. It's 20% of our sales and 95% of our problems.  

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 11:42:33 2015

No one has mentioned how greatly ebay Benefits from fraud, which is why they will NEVER institute a real fraud prevention system as it is not their merchandise nor money

Here's how ebay benefits from Buyer fraud

There is a large domestic and international community of thieves and cheats who can operate unimpeded on ebay. They can claim non receipt they can shakedown sellers for full or partial refunds, they can commit return fraud indefinatly . In the real world, more then a couple of charge disputes will result in a cancelled card. Not on ebay .

These frauds and cheats both spike up the GMV and the number of active users. I have seen innumerable instances where sellers tell of cheats who claim to have received an empty box, had their money refunded , only to have exact same item posted on ebay

I have read of sellers who found a whole network of interconnected accounts where thieves fraudulently obtain items, then resell them under different accounts

All of this benefits ebay .

A serious crackdown on fraud would be detrimental to ebay , so trying to protect yourself in a venue which wants you defenseless and victimized is not possible

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 14:01:53 2015

there is no real "safe way" e**y will over ride any policies a seller may have, if you loose thru e**y many buyers open the second case thru their credit card companies then sellers get charged from preypal an additional 20.00 charge back fee so selling under 20.00 is a freebee and over 50.00 you will have items switched there is absolutely NO seller protection at all from e**y. sorry its just not viable venue any longer    

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 14:03:21 2015

Anytime you have a venue , where its one sided , you will have bottom feeders nipping at your profits. There is very little stopping buyers from walking all over sellers. The kind of venue which deserves avoidance.

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Apr 15 16:38:46 2015

How to avoid buyer fraud? Don't sell on eBay! I know that's not feasible for some people, but everyone should try other marketplaces, or even their own web site, where you can make your own policies and don't have to cater to scamming buyers. Places like GoDaddy will give you templates to build a great looking site for minimal amounts of money. Don't be a slave to eBay and their unconscionable, anti-seller polices.

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: Enough Is Enough! This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 16:52:36 2015

Another tip is to use a small sticker with your initials as a security seal. Use it to cover a screwhole or seam. And take photos with the seal attached, and note in the listing that "The original item as shown in the photos is guaranteed".

This may not stop the professional fraudsters (since ebay will authorize most any return, even if the item is swapped), but will make the newbie scam artists think twice before attempting cyber shoplifting.....

Perminate Link for Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud   Practice Safe eBay Selling - Tips to Reduce Buyer Fraud

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 17:04:26 2015

@Enough Is Enough!
we did the sealing and sticker thing, Cartier watch 1800.00 item we sealed it e**y allows the seals to be removed for supposed inspection, however the works were removed and e**y allowed the return, we were told to wrap up into cost of doing business however we just gave up and went to speeditrade much less stress and nice people to work with

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by: Enough Is Enough! This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 15 17:20:45 2015

@ajeweler

I would be taking someone to court if they attempted to scam me out of that kind of money.

And contact the FBI Cyber Fraud department. This con artist has done, or will do this to someone else!!

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