Phishing emails are fake emails that appear to be from a legitimate corporation with an online presence. They normally look quire authentic and urge you to visit a counterfeit site whereupon you are lured (via a fake login screen) into providing your username, password and possibly some other sensitive personal information. This allows the fraudsters who collect this data to hijack your account or steal your identity.

eBay users are often the target of these “phishing expeditions.” The senders hope to takeover your eBay account in order to pose as you as either a buyer or a seller in order to commit eBay fraud and bilk some other auction user out of their money or goods. I receive dozens of these fake eBay emails per week. I need to remind myself to be especially vigilant against this form of eBay fraud if I’ve got several active auctions running and am expecting emails from the auction site. But lately I’ve noticed a way to easily differentiate the spoof emails from the real ones.

Emails from eBay always begin with a line that states, “eBay sent this message to Douglas Feiring” and includes my eBay user ID in parenthesis. The next line informs me that my name and user ID were included in order to verify the authentic origins of the email. Spoof eBay emails seem to always specifically exclude my name and user ID (“This message sent to eBay member”) with the next line explaining that this was omitted to protect my identity. How ironic!

While there is no guarantee that an email appearing to be from eBay that includes my name and user ID is genuine, I’m comfortable immediately deleting the ones that don’t.

A recent article by Consumer Reports magazine discussed several simple steps auction buyers can take to protect themselves from fraud on eBay. There’s nothing earth-shattering or new here, but these are good, common-sense measures to protect yourself online and review for the occasional self-analysis.

  • Check Feedback– The most important eBay fraud prevention measure is to check the seller’s feedback. Look for sellers that have an established reputation and feedback score that is at lease 99% positive. Take a few minutes to read some of the comments left by other bidders and any comments the seller has left for other users. Comments left by the sellers can be real eye openers. Are they professional? Evaluate the new “Detailed Seller Ratings.”
  • Avoid Shady Sellers– Go beyond the screen name to confirm the seller’s email address and physical location. Use the “Contact Seller” feature to ask a question or request additional pictures. Check the shipping and handling charges and make sure you agree with any terms and conditions included in the listing. Determine the seller’s accepted payment methods. Review the return policy and visit the sellers “About Me” page for any other pertinent information. Consider whether the seller is new, has changed identities recently, or has suddenly jumped into selling high-ticket items contrary to their previous eBay history (as gleaned from the feedback).
  • Comparison Shop– Reference online shopping sites such as Froogle or Yahoo! Shopping to see if you are bidding the appropriate amount. Consult an appraiser or online price guides for older collectibles. Request the seller provide some proof of authenticity or condition for high-priced antiques.
  • Read Between the Lines – Read the item’s description carefully. What does it say? What does it not say? Look for terms like “inspired by,” indicating that the product is a knock-off. Is there a picture? Beware of stock images for used items. Insist on actual photos of the item up for auction. Don’t be afraid to click the “Contact Seller” button to ask for clarification of anything unclear or missing form the auction listing’s description.
  • Don’t Bite on Phishing Schemes– Email messages that appear to be from eBay and ask for sensitive information or require you to log-on are designed to provide hackers the information they need to hack into your eBay account. I receive dozens of eBay phishing emails per week and some of them can be quite convincing – especially when a new variant starts making its rounds through cyberspace. Don’t click on any link and don’t reply. To confirm the authenticity from an email that appears to originate from the auction site, type eBay’s URL directly into your browser and login to My eBay. Any communications sent by or through eBay will be available in the message center of My eBay. Forward and suspected fraudulent emails to spam@ebay.com.

An article added recently posted to the eBay corporate blog discusses the increasing prevalence of sellers stringing along buyers they intend to defraud by not sending the goods after payment has been made.

For example, the sellers may say things like, “Oh, I sent the item, I can’t imagine what’s wrong…” or “I’ll check what happened with my shipper, just wait a few days” or “it just bounced back through the mail, let me send a replacement.” All of these things are fine to say if they’re true, and they’re just what you want to hear if you’re a buyer with a problem. But the experienced member asserted that these sellers are stringing their buyers along for a more insidious reason: they want the buyer to lose their eligibility to file a dispute or claim.

Buyers can only file a dispute on PayPal up to 45 days after the payment is made, and up to 60 days on eBay after an auction closes or the buyer makes a buy-it-now purchase. As sellers are usually much more savvy about eBay and PayPal’s rules and resolution processes, buyers often don’t know what their eligibility window is prior to experiencing a transaction problem. That leads to a situation where an unscrupulous seller can mislead and distract their buyer for long enough that the buyer loses eligibility, and then the seller can act with impunity knowing the buyer is no longer able to file a protection claim.

In the post, eBay recommends that buyers who are approaching the end of the filing window should file a dispute in order to preserve their rights and the protections afforded to them by eBay and PayPal — no matter how friendly and responsive the seller may seem.

After auction sellers have sold off everything they want to get rid of around the house (and then some), many turn to garage sales for sources of eBay inventory. If you are considering the Saturday morning yard sale circuit, here are some tips to maximize your time and help ensure you find the best products to sell and increase your eBay profits.

First, map out your route in advance. You’ll want to make the most efficient use of your time, so plan your successive stops next to each other. Avoid driving from one side of town to the other and then back again due to poor planning. Try to visit sales in well-to-do neighborhoods first. These yard sales offer the best opportunity to garner eBay inventory with the highest resale value. Your next stops should be garage sales at older, more established neighborhoods. These sales will likely be excellent sources of older collectables.

Next, get to the sales early. It’s within the bounds of garage sale etiquette to arrive 30-45 minutes before the advertised start time. If the goodies are out, start shopping. The worst that can happen is the “proprietor” might ask you to wait until he or she is ready to open. Conversely, you might get a jump on the competition and score some nice items to resell on eBay.

Remember to bring small bills and plenty of loose change. Many yard-sellers are ill prepared to make change and having exact-change will speed up the transaction and allow you to move quickly to the next garage sale your itinerary before the bargains are gone.

Neighborhood yard sales are terrific way to hit several sales in a short period of time. The savvy bargain hunter will bring a cart or wagon to save time and energy that would otherwise be expended lugging items to the car after each purchase. You’ll appreciate comfortable shoes after trudging around for a couple of hours at a neighborhood sale.

Don’t be afraid to bargain at garage sales. People who hold sales are looking to get rid of stuff that has been cluttering their house and should be receptive to a little haggling. Don’t neglect the free box either. Remember the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You just might find something marketable on eBay.

Although garage and yard sales are seasonable events in most parts of the country, they can be a viable source for augmenting your inventory of products to sell on eBay. Consider a shopping expedition after you’ve auctioned off all the extra stuff around the house and your family members eye you nervously each time you get near their (remaining) prized possessions.

Preventing Image Theft

September 23, 2006 | How To's  |  Leave a Comment   Share!  

If you’re like me, auction pictures are the most time consuming part of the eBay selling process. The investment in time and effort required to produce a photo for an effective auction listing is significant. After meticulously adjusting the lighting, experimenting with various angles, editing, cropping, and finally, uploading the picture to your image host, it’s extremely infuriating to find your picture on a competitor’s listing. Frustrating as it is, there are several courses of action available to deter and deal with image fraud.

The first step you should take when confronted with image theft is to contact the offending seller and ask them to remove your picture. As incredible as it may seem, many people who use the internet, even some seasoned eBay sellers, assume that everything on the web is free for the taking, including your copyrighted auction images. A simple email explaining that the pictures in question are copyrighted and politely requesting that they remove them from their auction listings should do the trick. If they refuse or ignore your request, your next recourse is to contact eBay. If you can prove that you own the copyright, eBay will remove and delete the offending listings.

An Ounce of Prevention

I choose to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with image theft. Although there are several technical measures you can take to deter your competition from “borrowing” your pictures (such as java scripts and modifying your .htaccess files), I find the simplest precautions often work the best.

labeled_maskSimply superimposing your eBay user ID or website URL on the picture will make the photo unusable to the competition. Image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Irfanview (freeware), or the free website MyImager.com all offer effective methods of adding text to your auction photos. The example to the left was edited online at MyImager.com.

Text should be carefully placed as to not obscure the product you’re selling while making it impossible for your competition to crop or edit it out of the picture. A translucent font is the best option for those with access to more capable image editing utilities.

goinggoing1Unfortunately your best efforts to prevent and/or resolve image theft are sometimes in vain. On one occasion, an eBay powerseller included my web site’s home page auctioneer cartoon on each of his hundreds of listings. While this particular clipart image is in the public domain and I don’t own the copyright, the offending seller was linking directly to the image file hosted on my server. This resulted in a noticeable load on my site’s bandwidth usage – bandwith that I’m obligated to pay for. After my numerous requests to quit stealing my bandwidth went unanswered and unheeded for several weeks, I decided to take a more aggressive stance.

goinggoingAfter renaming the clipart’s image file, I uploaded a different picture (left) to my server and gave it the original name of the hijacked clip art. The result was that this picture, with its incriminating message, suddenly appeared on each active listing of this powerseller. Now, would you bid on an auction that sported this image? Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long until the seller stopped stealing my bandwith.

Here’s an auction I just can’t figure out. There’s no picture, no HTML, and no template.

The description is a whopping 75 words and the terms are an amazing 785 words.

I guess the seller’s feedback score (2625) allows her to be successful with such a counter-intuitive auction listing format.

… It just makes you wonder how successful this seller could be with a picture and a simple template?

Anyway, here it is…

This is an auction for a new and unused, mint condition in the original package, Estee Lauder Cosmetics set called EXTREME BRIGHTS COLOR STICKS FOR EYES, LIPS AND CHEEKS. This rare and discontinued collection of miniature chalk sticks comes in shimmery shades of white, pink, gold and peacock blue. Highly versatile, this is easy to carry in your purse or for travel, fun, and would make a great gift for yourself or someone you love. You also get FREE PRIORITY MAIL SHIPPING AND DELIVERY CONFIRMATION! Postal insurance is not included and is always recommended. Postal insurance is optional at $1.30 for up to $49 value, $2.20 for up to $99 value and $3.20 for up to $199 value. You agree that if you decline postal insurance I am not responsible for any loss, damage or non-delivery of your box. PAYMENT FOR THIS AUCTION IS BY PAYPAL ONLY AND MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN 24 HOURS OF AUCTION END.

Please read the terms below carefully and be sure you can and will comply before bidding as by bidding you are agreeing you have read them and will not later try to claim you did not. I am only difficult to work with if you try to ignore and then change the posted terms. For your protection and mine, as well as per eBay’s rules and basic contract law, there are no deviations, accomodations, payment extensions, color substitutions or any alterations to the terms below for any reason whatsoever. You agree that your bid is a legally binding contract and that Arizona law and venue applies to this auction in the event you try to change the auction terms or leave libelous feedback as a result of being unhappy because you did not read fully before bidding or because I refused to accomodate changes you demanded after bidding. You agree to pay all attorney and court costs, costs for expert witnesses required and damages for lost time and sales in having to deal with your noncompliance and having to take action against you. I do not accept bids from or ship Internationally, to anyone physically outside of the 50 United States, or to Americans who live or work outside of the USA. International PayPal payments are blocked. Due to fraud, I do not accept bids from ANY military personnel including but not limited to APO, FPO and SPO addresses, Coast Guard, Navy, and those living on military bases. No bids are accepted from any unusual or alternate addresses such as cruise ship employees. They simply cannot comply with my payment terms and much of what I sell is not legally allowed to be exported. No bids are accepted from anyone who claims to be handicapped using that as an excuse to demand I alter auction terms. No bids are accepted from anyone with zero feedbacks (0 feedbacks, from users who have no feedback), feedback set as private, or negative feedback comments indicating they did not pay for other items previously won.

Postage on additional auctions won on the same day is $1.00 more per additional auction won, however this does NOT apply to buy it now purchases as eBay and PayPal are not set up to accomodate combined postage for these and I am required by PayPal to ship one box per payment received. You MUST place a bid to combine shipping and NOT use buy it now and you agree payment is due based on when the first auction ends not the last!

You agree that you already have a PayPal account, already know how to use it as I do NOT send out PayPal invoices, and that you already have available funds and are ready to pay when the auction ends. Your box must ship to the PayPal confirmed address and payment will be declined and refunded if another address is requested. Payment is blocked if you do not have a confirmed address with PayPal. I always ship to where PayPal, not you, tells me to and this is NOT negotiable per PayPal’s rules for fraud protection and eBay rules which require you to comply exactly with posted auction terms. If paying for multiple auctions via PayPal, only ONE payment can be accepted for all of the auctions also per PayPal rules for fraud protection.

Winning bidder will be contacted the same day the auction ends. If you block my mail with a spam filter, delete it accidentally, or claim you did not receive it you agree to contact me with payment within 24 hours of auction end. You agree if you do not contact me within 24 hours with the proper PayPal payment that you will have defaulted on the auction, understand I will relist the item and eBay will take permanent action against you for this. You agree in bidding that proper PayPal payment must be received within 24 hours (1 day) of auction end.

Please visit my eBay store to see my hundreds of other auctions all of which are sorted by category for convenience. Finally, please be sure to ask all questions BEFORE bidding as eBay rules require. All sales final with no refunds or exchanges permitted.

One of the most important aspects about your auction listing is the title. On eBay, the title is limited to 55 spaces. The words you employ in that limited space must be carefully crafted to appear in bidders’ search results and get the click once found.

An effective auction title:

  • Uses keywords that potential bidders use to search listings.
  • Solves a problem.
  • Make a reader curious to know more
  • Is simple and easy to read and understand.
  • Exhibits professionalism.

On eBay, the default search method only scans auction titles. These queries return results based on matches to the search term found only in the titles. Don’t waste precious space with useless descriptions like “Awesome”, “L@@K”, or “Wow!”. Nobody searches for an “awesome” iPod. Put yourself in the shoes of the bidder for moment and brainstorm the search terms she might use to find a product like yours. Include these words or phrases in your auction title. Include your item’s brand name, artist, or designer. State exactly what your item is, even if your title repeats the category name. Additionally, if you have the space, consider including alternate spellings of your product. For example, if your selling a lawn mower, write it as one word (“Lawnmower”) and two words (“Lawn Mower”).

After ensuring your listing is found in the search results, go to eBay and do some searches using these terms and see what listings are returned. Look at the auction titles and note the ones that draw your attention and start your mouse finger twitching. Search closed listing and see which titles drew high prices in the past.

Likely, the titles that are the most appealing and effective also communicate the merits of the product. Let your title sell the potential bidder on the honest benefits of your particular listing loudly and clearly. If your auction has an incredibly low opening bid with no reserve price or free shipping, ensure you annotate the fact in your title. Some commonly used auction title acronyms are listed below.

Here are some compelling words to tout the merits of your particular product:

powerful, admirable, impressive, success, breakthrough, announcing, secrets, dazzling, prosper, in-depth, ingenious, succeed, incredible, overwhelming, imagine, acclaim

Here are some commonly used auction title acronyms and abbreviations:

FS – “Factory Sealed”
GU – “Gently Used.”
GW – “Gently Worn.”
MWT – “Mint With Tags.”
NIB – “New In Box.”
NR – “No Reserve” price.
S/H – “Shipping and Handling”

Remember, your auction title is the key to getting found by bidders and enticing them to click on your listing. Finding and clicking are key events that must occur BEFORE you get any bids. So spend some time to consider what you include in those 55 spaces before you list your next auction.

Selling is Easy on Half.com

One of the most dynamic markets on the internet today is for books and music. I’ve found an easy and profitable way to capitalize on this market through Half.com. This article covers getting started selling on this web site.

Recently eBay, the owners of Half.com, reversed their plans to close the popular website. This was good news for book buyers and sellers alike. As a frequent seller on Half.com, I find several advantages of this venue over traditional auction sites such as eBay or Yahoo! auctions. Some the things I like about Half.com include: easy listing, easy payments, and no re-listing hassles.

Listing is fast and easy on Half.com. There’s no worrying about templates, ad text, scanning or hosting/posting images. After registering, simply select the book’s ISBN, indicate the condition, and choose a price and you’re selling.

Half.com makes payments easy as well. When the buyer purchases the book, they pay via Half.com’s credit card system. Half.com calculates and includes the shipping charges, and pays the seller via direct deposit twice a month.

Another benefit to selling on Half.com is that there are no re-listing hassles or expenses. Books remain listed until sold. The site charges a simple 15% final value fee for most books.

Inventory Sources

You can get started selling used books on Half.com with books around the house. Over the years you probably have accumulated several in-demand titles that you don’t really want to keep around any more. Once your Half.com business takes-off, yard sales and thrift shops are excellent and inexpensive sources of used books for your listings. Here the intrepid Half.com seller can often pick up a number of books for pennies a copy.

Inventory Systems and Storage

If you decide to continue selling books on Half.com after you’ve shipped off the volumes you have had sitting around the house, you will need to develop a strategy for storing and organizing your inventory. Gary Hendrickson, author of “How to Sell Common Everyday Books on Half.com like Crazy”, recommends banana boxes recycled from your local grocery store. They stack nicely and can be clearly numbered with a marker. With this storage system in place, Gary uses a simple database set up to record the title of the book, its condition, date listed, and the number of the box in which it is stored.

If you’re willing to devote a few hours a week to your Half.com business and take your business seriously, you can easily make several hundred dollars a month with minimal effort. Even more is quite possible. It all depends on the time and effort you are willing to put into it.

typingIf done correctly, a clear and effective eBay sales policy can encourage bidding and increase your listing’s final sale price. Unambiguous auction terms take much of the mystery out of the transaction and reduce the bidder’s perceived risk.

Your conditions should clarify your payment terms, shipping methods and costs, and articulate how you handle returns. Your policy should be included in every auction listing and the winner’s notification email. Failing to clearly communicate a fair eBay sales policy can prompt potential buyers to click away from your listing and bid on some other seller’s auction.

The Payment Policy

When developing and specifying your payment policy, remember bidders are interested in the two things — security and convenience. As individuals value these two qualities to various degrees, it’s constructive to offer multiple payment options.

PayPal is a widely accepted method on eBay and other online auction sites. If you don’t mind the fees, this option offers both convenience and security. Money orders and cashiers checks are less convenient, yet are preferred by some auction bidders.

Personal checks are convenient for the bidder but expose the seller to some risk. Many eBay sellers will accept personal checks however they will hold the bidder’s purchase for two weeks until the check clears. If this is your policy, ensure you state it clearly in your auction listing’s payment policy.

If your state requires you to collect sales tax from in-state buyers, note this in your auction terms.

Regardless of how you elect to bill your customers, always specify when you expect to receive the payment. Remittance within seven days is not unreasonable unless your purchaser is mailing a check from a foreign country. Clearly state that the item will be re-listed or offered to the next highest bidder if payment is not received prior to your policy’s deadline.

Shipping and Handling Costs

Nothing will send potential bidders scurrying to the back button faster than an unspecified or obviously inflated shipping charge. Many successful sellers state their shipping costs up front with only a modest markup for handling fess — if any. Offering multiple shipping alternatives is a useful technique. Many sellers include express delivery services for buyers in a hurry, and more economical delivery methods for their more frugal bidders The key here is to simply and clearly tell potential bidders up front what they will pay for shipping and handling.

Offering insurance is a simple way to reduce risk for both the buyer and seller. eBay allows the listing to include insurance as an option the bidder can elect to purchase at checkout. Many sellers stipulate that they will not warranty their product against damage unless the bidder opts for shipping insurance.

If you only ship on certain days of the week as many high-volume sellers do, ensure you clarify this in your shipping terms.
Return Policy

The return and refund policy the portion of your sales terms that requires the most consideration on the seller’s part. This can be as simple as including a disclaimer that item is sold “As Is” and there are no returns. Or you may want to offer a more liberal return policy. Your return policy may be subject to time limits, reasonable restocking fees, and shipping expenses. As you are formulating your sales terms, consider that a more liberal return policy will encourage bidders to take a chance on your listing and may promote repeat business.

Example eBay Sales Policy

AUCTION TERMS…

Shipping and Handling is $5.50 for USPS Priority Mail shipping with delivery confirmation or $2.30 for USPS Media Mail. Insurance is optionally available at checkout for an additional $1.30. I ship to U.S. locations only (Military FPO/APO addresses are O.K.).

We accept Paypal and Money Orders. We do not accept personal checks.

All California residents will be charged a 7.5% state sales tax during the checkout process.

Once the auction ends, the winning bidder can pay using the Checkout button, or wait to receive an automated email invoice shortly after the auction ends, with totals and payment instructions.

Checkout must be completed within 7 days of the close of auction, and all PayPal payments must be made within this time period. If payment isn’t received within this time period, the item will be re-listed and a Non-Paying Bidder alert will be filed.

All items sold AS IS. Returns are accepted ONLY if the item was not as described in the auction. Buyer must contact us within 3 days of receiving the item to initiate a return. Buyer is responsible for return shipping charges.

Conclusion

Failing to develop and articulate an effective eBay sales policy is a fundamental mistake auction sellers frequently make. Take some time before listing your next auction to make certain your payment, shipping and return policies are helping you get the bids you deserve.

eBay Motors: An Introduction

car02Launched on April 24, 2004, eBay Motors has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectation. The prediction that consumers were generally hesistant to purchase used cars online was completely wrong. In its second year of exesitance, eBay Motors sold over $1 billion in cars!

Although it’s a separate site within eBay, buyers and sellers can use their same user ID and password on eBay Motors.

More than half of the listings on eBay Motors are from professional dealers with listings in five main categories:

  • Boats
  • Motorcycles
  • Parts and Accessories
  • Passenger Vehicles
  • Power Sports
  • Other Vehicles

Buying Cars on eBay Motors

Nearly 450,000 used cars were sold on eBay Motors last year. Your dream car just might be the next.

After you’ve found an auto in which you are interested, go to Edmunds.com or NADAguides.com to learn what the true value of the car you are looking is. This will help you place a realistic limit on your bidding.

Note the car’s description. Unless otherwise stated, assume that all cars listed on eBay Motors are sold As Is (without a warranty). Check the reputation of the seller by carefully reading his or her feedback.

Next, click over to Carfax.com with the auto’s vehicle identfication number (VIN) and plop down $19.99 to obtain a vehicle history report. This will point out potential problems by providing a the car’s history of salvage, accidents, repairs, flood damage and owner history. eBay Motors and SGS Auto offers a service where a licensed local mechanic will inspect the car for $99.50.

Don’t be afraid to contact the seller for any clarification or questions before you bid.

Finally, if you are not close enough to the seller to personally pick up the car, ensure you factor in the price of shipment by auto carrier into your bottom line. Shipping across country will generally cost $800.00. Many dealers can arrange this for you and eBay Motors has also teamed up with a shipping company to provide this service to its community.

Selling Cars on eBay Motors

Selling a car on eBay Motors is similar to listing on eBay’s regular site. A good description and pictures are key. Have the title or registration handy when creating your listing. Assume that potential buyers are going to run a vehicle history report on your car, so you should to if you are not the original owner.

Something else you may want to consider is an inspection. Pep Boys and eBay Motors have teamed up to offer a cosmetic and mechanical inspection for $24.99.

The fee structure for selling on eBay Motors is different than eBay’s regular site.

There’s a flat $40.00 listing for vehicles posted to the Boat, Passenger Vehicles, and Other Vehicles categories ($30.00 for Motorcycles and Powersports) and a $40.00 fee if your auction receives a bid ($30.00 for Motorcycles and Powersports).

eBay’s regular fee structure applies to items listed for auction in the Parts and Accessories category.

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