How to Sell on eBay without Fear of Scams

As one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, eBay provides an ideal platform for selling unwanted items or building a selling business.

Unfortunately, it also has a reputation for scams. This notoriety can be off-putting for new users to the platform. This article will aim to build confidence in new sellers who may be nervous or apprehensive about selling on eBay due to the perceived risk of scams.

Selling on eBay with confidence

Keep these three golden rules in mind at all times when selling on eBay.

Golden Rule 1: Owning a business is inherently risky

Scammers are definitely not unique to eBay. Selling anywhere, whether online or in a traditional store, is inherently risky. Every retailer, big or small, needs to anticipate and deal with some amount of loss. This can be a result of theft, fraud or damage.

Selling on eBay has the same risks. For this reason, new sellers must be prepared to lose money on a small percentage of sales. No seller is immune from this, though the biggest sellers are less likely to feel the impact.

Golden Rule 2: Most eBay buyers are legitimate

While it may sometimes feel like scammers are rampant on eBay, the actual percentage of fraudulent sales on the site is low. The total number of listings in 2018, for example, was over 1.2 billion. The majority of transactions were legitimate, representing millions (and millions!) of successful sales.

Scam warnings and experiences are a popular topic on eBay forums and websites (and this one is no exception) but the reality is that fraudulent buyers are not as common as you may expect. The vast majority of eBay buyers do not have the intention scam sellers.

Golden rule 3: It is not possible to foolproof a sale but extra precautions can help

In an ideal world, there would be a guaranteed way to prevent unscrupulous buyers from taking advantage of eBay sellers. With so many scam variations, this is currently impossible. Sellers can, however, take steps to protect themselves from the most common scams. Check out the tips below to help avoid getting scammed on eBay.

Basic scam protection for sellers

While it is difficult to avoid scams and unscrupulous buyers completely, new eBay sellers can take simple precautions to lessen their risk.

Learn eBay policy to the letter

The more you know, the better. New sellers are particularly vulnerable to scams due to inexperience. The easiest way to lessen this risk is to learn as much as possible about eBay procedure and policy.

Stay away from high risk selling categories

Highly desirable items such as laptops, cell phones and designer handbags are common targets for scammers. New sellers should steer clear of aspirational categories, at least before gaining more selling experience. If selling designer items is unavoidable, consider using the eBay Authenticate program.

Adjust selling preferences to weed out potentially difficult buyers

eBay allows sellers to exclude certain types of buyers from bidding or buying their items. This can be found in the Buyer Requirements section under Selling Preferences. Sellers can, for example, block buyers who have a history of unpaid items.

Learn classic scam red flags

With so many different variations, it may be impossible to learn every specific scam routine. A much easier technique is to become familiar with the classic red flags for the most common scams. Read more about how to recognize fraudulent buyers elsewhere on Auction Nudge.

Send items with signature confirmation

eBay’s Money Back Guarantee requires sellers to use signature confirmation when sending items with a payment value of $750 or more. Some sellers choose to use signature confirmation for items worth less for additional protection against scammers.

Purchase shipping insurance for valuable items

Most shipping companies offer a basic level of insurance for all packages, typically $50 or $100. When shipping items over this amount, buying extra insurance can be worth it for extra peace of mind in the event of the item being lost or damaged in transit (or claimed as such by a scammer).

Consider using local pickup for fragile items

Even with signature confirmation, tracking and shipping insurance, it can still be risky to send fragile items through the mail. If the item is one-of-a-kind or particularly valuable, consider using the local pickup option to ensure that a potentially unscrupulous buyer has no opportunity to claim a refund for damage.

Factor loss into your business plan

As mentioned above, the anticipation of loss is a key part of any selling business. Keep this in mind when calculating profit margins and business income. Some sellers choose to put aside a certain amount of income every month to account for a small percentage of lost sales.

Experienced sellers, do you have any tips to share about selling confidently on eBay? 

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.