We've all probably received them... an email that looks just like other eBay emails that you've received in the past. Only this one has a question about an item you don't have listed or a puzzling rude note from another eBayer accusing you of something you didn't do! Or you get an email from eBay claiming that they're updating files and if you don't respond they're going to suspend your account! Gasp!
These are types of phishing scams sent out by unscrupulous parties who are trying to obtain your personal information for their own nefarious purposes. These guys work round the clock trying to devise ways to trick you out of valuable information that can benefit them and damage you.
"Phishing" (pronounced fishing) is a form of fraud designed to steal your identity. It works by using false pretences to get you to disclose personal information, such as credit and debit card numbers, account passwords, or Social Security numbers. And eBay users are prime targets. Here's how you can protect yourself.
FRAUDULENT EMAILS THAT LOOK LIKE EBAY EMAILS
There are a few different spoof emails circulating. Here are some examples:
1. You get an email from another eBayer claiming that he's received spam email from you and that's he's reporting you to eBay. I've received a number of these myself. They'll say things like "How DARE you send your crappy spam mail to my account?? I'm reporting you to eBay immediately and I hope they suspend your account!!"
2. You receive an email from a seller with a generic question about an item, but the item in question is not provided within the email. Or the item they're asking about is not one that you are selling.
3. You get an email supposedly from eBay, claiming that they want to "invite" you to become a Powerseller. (This one usually works. I mean, who wouldn't want to become a Powerseller? Seriously.)
4. You bid on an item, and before the auction ends you get an email from someone claiming to be the seller. They want to end the auction early and state that they are willing to accept the amount you bid as payment for the item, and send you information on where to send payment.
5. You receive an email that looks at though it comes from eBay, with the eBay logo and a legitimate looking sender address such as support with an "ebay.com" ending. They will claim that there is a problem with your account, either with your payment method or "updating" your files, and they demand that you respond immediately or risk suspending your account.
Most of these (and of course other different kinds) of emails are usually sent by scammers, and they are designed to trigger feelings that make you want to respond immediately. This is how they tempt you to use the link provided in the scam email. This way they get hold of personal information that allows them to "steal" your identity, or they simply rip you off when sending payments to someone who is not a seller.
The way they do it is to ask you to click on a link in the email. This will usually result in a request for your password to log into eBay through that link. Now they have your eBay login! With that, they can place false bids, send malicious emails to other eBayers, change your personal information including your eBay password so that you can't even log on, and possibly obtain information like your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank information, etc. All of these potential scams would drive anybody crazy!
How can you stop yourself from passing valuable information to scammers? The single best way is to NEVER ANSWER AN EBAY EMAIL DIRECTLY BY USING THE "REPLY NOW" OR ANY OTHER LINK IN THE EMAIL. If you want to read any questions that were sent to you legitimately using the eBay message system, go to your "My eBay" page. In the left hand column, under "My eBay Views", there is a heading entitled "My Messages". By using this method to view and respond to your email messages you won't fall prey to illegal contacts designed to steal your identity. You will also receive any emails from eBay through this system, so make sure that you don't respond to any emails any other way no matter how authentic they look.
It may sound like a pain to respond to messages only through your eBay messaging system, but it's really not. I started getting so many ebay spoof mails that I no longer even read them when they show up in my mailbox, or even emails from sellers when I've won an item. When I log onto eBay for the day, the first thing I do is check through my messages under My eBay, and it's the last thing I do before logging off. After awhile it becomes automatic, and you no longer have to worry about being the victim of an online scammer!
REMEMBER, EBAY WILL NEVER ASK YOU TO PROVIDE ACCOUNT NUMBERS, PASSWORDS, OR OTHER SENSITIVE INFORMATION THROUGH EMAIL.
If you want to help reduce the number of spam emails sent, report it by forwarding the exact email that you received to eBay. eBay will send you an email letting you know if the email was legit or not. Make sure you send the email exactly as you received it. Do not make any changes to it. For information on where to send this email, and other official eBay information on spoof emails, click on this eBay link: How do I know that an email is really from eBay?
Following these guidelines can help reduce or eliminate your chances of becoming a victim of scammers. Good luck and Happy eBaying!
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