Common eBay and PayPal email scams...
At the moment it's not uncommon for me to receive 5-10 emails a day spread across my email accounts which claim to be from eBay or PayPal.
The vast majority are sent by fraudsters to try and get my username and password. The rest are harmless enough notifications from the above companies.
So, how can you tell the difference?
There are some tell-tale signs that the email you have just received is from a scammer:
Rather than addressing you by your eBay username (which eBay ALWAYS does), the email begins "Dear eBay User" or "Dear eBay Member".
Whenever PayPal email you the mail will start "Dear Mr J R Hartley" where "Mr J R Hartley" is the name you have entered when registering.
The scammers are sending out thousands of these mails, they do not have the technology to target them correctly.
(2) Spelling mistakes.
If the punctuation and grammar are not up to scratch, it is more than likely you are receiving your email from a Nigerian cyber-cafe rather than from eBay.
(3) Wrong email address
You have received the email at an address which is not your main eBay or PayPal address. You should only have one eBay address and if an email has come in to another address it is safe to assume it is a fake.
(4) Question for an unknown item
You receive a question about an item you have never even listed. Inside the message is a question such as "will you ship to London?" and underneath a link which you can click to respond.
If you don't recognise the item which the question is supposedly about, ignore the email.
(5) Dodgy links
When you hover your mouse over the link, it appears as an IP address in the window at the bottom of the screen.
http://xx.xx.xx.xx/eBayetc where xx is a number.
If it is a real eBay email, the link will appear as:
http://contact.ebay.co.uk/etcetc..... or similar
(6) Account disabled
The email warns you that if you do not confirm your details your account will be disabled.
This is a common trick to try and get your password. Ignore it.
So, how do I avoid running into trouble?
With any emails like the above, if you are worried or wish to double check, never click on the link inside the email.
Instead, open up a new browser window, manually type in http://www.ebay.co.uk or http://www.paypal.co.uk and then log into your account.
Any problems, queries, questions or anything else which needs your attention will be cleared highlighted in your My eBay or PayPal account homepage.
Delete any emails you are unsure of.
Remember, it is very easy to fake the "From" address in an email. Treat all emails from eBay and PayPal with suspicion and you will avoid problems.
Until next time,
Important Update: 1st August 2005
eBay has recently added a "My Messages" feature to the "My eBay" part of the site. If anyone should now ask you a question about an item, two things will happen:
(a) The "Sender" part of the email you receive will be in the form "eBay Member: ben_catt" (with the username of the member asking the question replacing "ben_catt")
(b) The question will be in your "My Messages" inbox.
If the question is not in your messages in My eBay, delete it.