eBay launches Aust security PR blitz

With 21 million items listed on its Web site every day, it is easy to tell why eBay has become a favourite target for organised e-scams in Australia.The NSW police reports that over the past 12 months, 600 people have been victimised by fraudsters on eBay.

With 21 million items listed on its Web site every day, it is easy to tell why eBay has become a favourite target for organised e-scams in Australia.

The NSW police reports that over the past 12 months, 600 people have been victimised by fraudsters on eBay. However, Katrina Johnson, eBay Australia Trust and Security Director, says "because we are a large site, we get reported more but it does not necessarily mean we are getting targeted by organised crimes. There is really no organised crime targeting eBay per se but sometimes it just comes out different in the media."

Johnson says eBay is focusing more on educating its members on how to trade safely online. They provide members with a Feedback Forum, tips on how to spot a spoof e-mail, an express button to report problems in eBay, and a community chat board where members exchange views and tips about online trading.

"Members are very vigilant in reporting what they think are suspicious buyers or sellers. We then investigate these information after they pass it on to us, "Johnson says.

A number of unique people give out a score and comment (negative, positive or neutral) about the seller/buyer they have dealt with in the past. Through this, new sellers/buyers have an idea about the reputation and reliability of a certain member.

Angie Cursley, eBay PR executive, recommends that members check the seller's reputation in the platform before doing any business. "If for instance there is a mobile phone sold in Hong Kong, the first thing you should do is go to the seller's feedback and see what other buyers have to say about the seller. Make sure that the person is a reputable seller in eBay," says Cursley.

"When you are buying somewhere else, you don't get the opportunity of seeing what others think of the buyer or seller, that's what makes this system unique," Cursley adds.

eBay has also provided members with a dedicated e-mail address to forward spoof e-mails that members receive. Spoof e-mail may appear as though it has come from a trusted company (including eBay), Johnson advices members not to click on the link. Instead, they should send it to the dedicated e-mail address, spoof@ebay.com.au, so it can be investigated further.

As for phishing and the use of fake escrow accounts, Cursley says "it's an industry-wide issue and it's affecting a lot of other companies the same way it is affecting eBay and we have zero tolerance for it so we are doing our best to stamp it out completely."

With the spread of the fake escrow scam, Johnson suggests members investigate their own trusted escrow service. "There has been several high priced items sold in eBay, so if it's a great amount we suggest they use a reputable escrow service recommended by either eBay or something they have investigated themselves. Don't just take what the seller is recommending."

Johnson admits they see the advancing technology of scammers to be a long term threat. She assures members that "As part of the trust and safety department, we have a number of specialists, like former police officers and former intelligence officers, committed to looking at these issues and finding the best ways to deal with them. We know that the advancing technology used by scammers can be an issue in the future, so we have a lot of very well trained people finding ways to be ahead of the e-scammers."