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How to Trade Safely on eBay

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 24 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Ebay Security Online Business Safety

As trading on ebay is just like any other online business, you must have in place systems and checks to ensure your ebay business has robust protection. This will ensure that it not only trades profitably, but has all the security measures it needs in place. Trading online has a number of risks associated with it, but if you take your time to build high levels of security into your ebay store you can rest assured that your online business is protected against fraud, and other criminal activity.

Payment Security

One of the main areas that your online business should pay close attention to, is the payment mechanisms it uses to take money from buyers credit or debit cards. Once your PayPal account is set up, you shouldn’t be asked for this information again. If you are via email for instance, treat this message as suspicious and report this to ebay immediately. PayPal has a security centre you can visit on their website that contains more information about how to protect your ebay payments.

Ebay has banned the use of instant money transfer services such as Western Union to protect its buyers and sellers from potential fraud. It is also recommended that your online business doesn’t accept payment in cash as this is inherently risky and if lost, there is no reliable means of tracking the payment.

Listings and Sales

Ebay has a group of goods that you are not allowed to sell via their website. These goods include guns, alcohol and fireworks to name just a few. Visit the ebay Safety Centre for a full list. To ensure your business isn’t breaking the law, check that the goods your online business will be selling are allowed onto your ebay store.

The security of brand names is also part of ebay security. As counterfeit goods can easily make their way onto an ebay store, the VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) programme has been developed. This programme enables you to check whether any of the intellectual property of your online business is being infringed by another ebay business. More information about how you can use this security feature within your ebay business is in the ebay Safety Centre.

To ensure your ebay store lists its items correctly, think about how you are describing the items for sale. Ensure your ebay store listings are legal and stay within the trade descriptions laws. This gives your online business security from prosecution if customers later report faulty of miss-represented goods they bought from your ebay store.

If you are selling to overseas customers using PayPal as your payment mechanism is the most secure. Also think about any regulations your ebay business may have to consider when importing goods into a country. To ensure the safety of your business, check on the import regulations of a buyer’s country before you send their goods.

Fraud and Insurance

As the owner of the ebay business you can give yourself a level of protection from potential criminal buyers by setting minimum levels of positive feedback that a buyer must have before you will allow them to either participate in your auctions, or make a Buy It Now purchase. Buyers with low levels of positive feedback could prove to be unreliable payers and should be avoided.

If you are suspicious of a buyer you can use the built in contact systems that ebay has to ask your potential buyer questions. After they have responded you can make a decision whether they can continue bidding, or if you will sell them the item via Buy It Now. The protection you gain from getting to know your customers can’t be overstated. Your online business may gain regular customers you can trust, but look closely at new potential buyers your online business doesn’t know.

When a sale is completed on your ebay store, your online business enters into a legally binding contract with the buyer. Ebay has an unpaid item policy that clearly states that your business must be paid for an item that has been won or bought with Buy It Now. If your buyer doesn’t pay ebay should be informed. If the buyer continues not to pay, their ebay account can be suspended.

As you operate your ebay business you will begin to understand how your business operates. If a transaction on your ebay store doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t and you should investigate before continuing with the sale. Ebay users are generally very honest, but the system can be abused, so to ensure the complete safety of your online business, always be vigilant.

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