Beware Online Auction Fraud & Identity Theft

December 26, 2009
By

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Scammers often set up pages on auction sites during the holiday season. Consumers should be aware of deals that are obviously too good to be true. Most too good to be true online deals bite unsophisticated shoppers or “newbies” to the online auction world. The victim either gets goods that are inferior, counterfeit or they never get anything and still get charged.

My spouse needed some skin care products and went online to eBay to make a purchase. She’s a newbie at this and doesn’t have a lot of experience. She called me over to help complete the transaction and was all happy she found her products so cheap. She told me the other companies were charging almost double so she doubled her order because she was saving so much. I looked at the seller “feedback” that others are supposed to give and it seems my spouse was the first ever buyer.

I told her I didn’t feel comfortable with the purchase that she should wait a day to see what happens. She begrudgingly agreed with me. The next day she logged on to complete her purchase and she saw a message stating: “The eBayer has been suspended from eBay because our records indicate the account was involved in activities that violate our terms” or something like that.

If it seems like online fraud, it is.

Scams can happen inside or outside the auction’s website.eBay recommends being aware of “spoofed” emails.

Stay safe online by protecting yourself from spoof (fake) emails and Web sites. Spoof emails and Web sites can be a major problems for unsuspecting Internet users. Claiming to be sent by a well-known company, spoof emails direct users to Web sites asking for personal information such as a credit card number, Social Security number, or account password. Most “legit” websites will never ask you for such personal information when making a simple purchase. Because it’s so difficult to tell when an email or Web site is a spoof, eBay recommends that you:

1. Download and use eBay Toolbar with Account Guard, a feature that indicates whether you are on the real eBay or Paypal Web sites, or are on a potential spoof site.

2. Learn about spoof protection by taking eBay’s spoof tutorial.

3. Never enter sensitive personal information (such as your password or credit card, bank account, and Social Security numbers) in an email.

Avoid online scams and identity theft by looking for “Feedback” internally on eBays website

1. Buy with confidence by reviewing a seller’s eBay feedback.

2. Before you bid or buy on eBay, it’s important to know your seller. Always look at your seller’s feedback ratings, score and comments first to get an idea of their reputation within the eBay marketplace.

3. Each comment and rating – whether positive, neutral or negative – is an opportunity to understand the history and experience of a seller, a chance to form your own opinions, and a visual cue to help you make a smart buying decision.

Two men were recently arrested when they pocketed the buyer’s payment, then used the buyer’s credit card number and then made fraudulent charges. You can’t be too careful here.

In most cases I recommend using PayPal for online auctions to help prevent online identity theft. If you use your credit card, make sure to check your statements frequently and refute unauthorized charges immediately.

Online buying can help make life easier. Make sure you follow these tips when making online purchases to help protect your identity.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for HomeSecuritySource.com See him in action discussing holiday scams on Fox’s Mike and Juliet show. (Disclosures)

*Content expressed in Home Security Source does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.1

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