Avoid Ebay Scams

After many years of using Ebay, I’ve experienced or witnessed friends fall victim to the occasional chargeback, fake bidder, and fraud attempts. If you are buying and selling mobile devices on Ebay, you are at risk of being scammed. Cell phones and tablets are valuable and as a result there are people out there that will try to rip you off. As a buyer, remember… If it is seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use your best judgement and always perform your due diligence before handing over your credit card.


Always check a the other user’s feedback. Feedback consists of a positive, negative, or neutral rating, along with a short comment. I always look for a user that has positive feedback as well as a high feedback count. I prefer someone with a 99% positive rating from 250 users than someone who has a 100% positive rating from 1 user. Additionally, look at the type of items from previous feedback ratings. Make sure the items sold or bought make sense and are in a similar price range to the item you are dealing with. You wouldn’t want to buy a used iPhone from someone who has 5 feedback ratings all from selling $1 imported shoe strings. Investigate a user’s profile. Check out their history and when they registered for an Ebay account. Your due diligence will help prevent you from entering into a bad Ebay transaction. Scam artists are known to complete a few small priced transactions to build their positive feedback before ripping someone off for several hundred or thousand dollars.

Ebay Feedback


Whether you are the buyer or sell, always use PayPal to transfer money for Ebay sales. PayPal protects you so you might as well use it. PayPal Seller Protection protects you from losing your money to claims and chargebacks resulting from buyer complaints. PayPal also offers purchase protection for buyers. Purchase protection supports the buyer when an order doesn’t arrive, something is wrong with the item when it does arrive, or if you were charged for something you didn’t purchase. Don’t fall victim to a seller that says they shipped out a tablet but never really did.

Only accept payments from confirmed PayPal addresses. A PayPal Confirmed Address is an address attached to a verified account that PayPal gives a special “confirmed” status to. PayPal extends more seller protections when selling to a buyer with a confirmed address. A “confirmed address” is NOT the same as a “verified account” on PayPal. PayPal will not protect you if you ship an item to an unconfirmed address. As a seller, you should require that all bidders and buyers have a confirmed address. If the buyer behaves suspiciously and won’t confirm the shipping address, refund the payment, file a non-paying bidder alert and relist the item.

PayPal Protection

Read The Description

If you are buying on Ebay, make sure you thoroughly read the entire description and understand it. Many scammers will write in the end of a lengthy description that the cell phone is broken but won’t say it in the title of the listing. A buyer may only read the first paragraph and think it is a working device only to find out it doesn’t work when they receive it. Imagine paying a couple hundred bucks for the newest Android phone only to receive one that has water damage. Talk about a disappointment. Read the fine print to avoid any surprises. If the condition of the item is stated correctly in the description, you cannot receive a refund.


If you are selling a phone or tablet, post high quality pictures to your listing that accurately portray the condition of your device. Every scratch and scuff should be photographed to ensure that the buyer is well aware of what they are buying. Make sure to detail these imperfections in your description as well. I also like to take a photograph of the ESN number to keep for my personal records. That way, a buyer can’t switch a perfectly working cell phone with an identical broken phone and then file a claim for a refund. This is a scam. To avoid it, you can keep a record and photograph of the ESN and serial number. This way, the scammer can’t try to return a different phone and say that it’s the same one that you sold them. Also consider taking a picture of the item as you put it in the box.


If you are a seller, there are 4 things to always remember when shipping your package.

  • Use sufficient packaging to protect the item while in transit.
  • Spend the money on shipping insurance. This will protect you if the item is lost, stolen, or broken.
  • Add tracking to your shipment so you can see when it is delivered.
  • Require a signature on delivery. This way the buyer cannot claim they never received the shipment. Clearly state delivery confirmation will be used in the item listing to prevent someone from thinking you can be scammed.

Ebay Shipping

Use Ebay’s Tools

Go to the “Buyer requirements” section of your eBay preferences. Block the buyers who: Are registered in countries to which I don’t ship, Have a feedback score of -1 or lower, Are currently winning or have bought 10 of my items in the last 10 days, and Have received 2 Unpaid Item strikes in the last 30 days.

Ebay also offers buyer protection. If you haven’t received your item, or it arrives differently than it was described, Ebay will refund your purchase price plus shipping. You can use the resolution center to file a claim. The resolution process can also support a seller.


Stay aware and remember that fraud can happen with low cost items, high-ticket items, domestic, and international buyers. Learn to be a smart Ebay user and avoid any Ebay scams. 

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