The online revolution has spawned a new industry of sorts: eBay. As you know it's kind of like a global yard sale, matching buyers and sellers of everything from collectibles to furniture. But as billions of dollars change hands, we're getting more and more complaints from those who are victims of fraud.
Andrew Cook is one of the victims of online fraud. He says his last visit to eBay turned into a $400 learning experience. He searched eBay looking for a video card for online gaming. He figured he could save about a hundred bucks compared to what he'd spend at a store. He submitted a winning bid, ignoring the seller's very low rating and out of country address. It wasn't until about 7 days later he find out all the information was bogus.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating hundreds of online fraud cases. The federal government has filed 57 civil and criminal actions against internet auction scammers. The most common fraud is failure to deliver goods. The FTC says there are a lot more. Ebay is trying to fight fraud by policing the site itself, but that's not nearly enough. The federal government says you need to take action to protect yourself. Deal only with eBay sellers who have positive feedback. Do not deal with people who have more than a few negative feedbacks. Pay with a credit card and pay through Pay Pal, eBay's online payment service. You'll get limited protection as a buyer from both your credit card company and from Pay Pal. Be careful about buying from sellers in other countries.
The feedback system is what makes eBay work. It encourages sellers to treat you fairly. You have real leverage as a buyer. The seller knows that nothing less than his reputation to the world is on the line with each sale. A good seller has powerful incentive to keep you happy.