Buying Online Tip #2: Staying Safe on Ebay

Ebay LogoEbay is an incredible resource for buying a huge variety of both new and used goods. The upshot is that it scares a lot of people and so the first thing to do is to make sure that you, the buyer, knows how to stay safe. I promise it’s really not that hard if you follow these simple tips. Hang on, the way you shop is about to completely change!

First, some simple ground rules: always make sure that your connection is secured whenever logging into a service which involves transactions. In modern browsers, that means that you’ll see a little padlock in either the bottom right or in the address bar at the top. This is important because it means that your connection is encrypted and the identity of the remote site has been verified. This is important in order to prevent phishing attacks, among other things.

Now the first thing we need to do is get a PayPal account. You’ve probably heard about it at some point or another but may not know how it can help you. The idea is actually pretty simple and in fact, it’s a lot like using a credit card for fraud protection. That said, PayPal is different from credit card companies In that they require immediate payment for transactions to take place. You are protected because you make purchases without ever directly giving funds to the seller. What is happening in the background is that PayPal will take funds from your account, convert them to the appropriate currency and pay the seller on your behalf. Technically PayPal isn’t required and some sellers may accept credit or bank cards or other forms of payment, but it’s a lot safer because the seller never actually sees any of your personal information. PayPal also offers buyer protection specifically designed for online transactions, which is a huge plus. For those wondering, they make money by taking commission on sales. The only costs we’ll be concerned with at the moment will be currency conversions as they will take a small cut there. It’s not huge and banks do it too, but just know that it’s happening.

PayPal Logo

When you go to get your account in a couple of minutes, you’ll probably be wondering what card to link with PayPal. It is generally preferred to use your bank card under most circumstances for a few reasons; first is because you are cutting out the middleman.  Furthermore, using your bank card you can get your address verified and some sellers only ship to verified addresses. If you really want, you can link both your bank and credit card to PayPal and choose which funding source to use every time at checkout. Just a heads up: if your account does not have sufficient funds when you go to make your payment, PayPal will warn you and take the rest the next source. Now that we know what PayPal is and how it works, take a break and go open your account and hurry back!

Now that you’ve got a brand spanking new account with PayPal it’s time to sign up on Ebay. This is by far a less substantial affair because Ebay is largely a search engine and a way of keeping track of your purchases, feedback to your and from you to sellers. Ebay makes its money entirely from sellers and so you don’t have to give them a penny directly. No worries here at all, again just make sure you use a strong password. Consider using a different one from your PayPal password, though, this is a case where it’s good practice but is not an absolute must. The reason it is recommended is because if one password is compromised and you use that for absolutely everything, anyone with that password will have access to everything you do online. I’ll leave how you want to “split” passwords and logins up to you.

So, to recap, here are the basic rules to staying safe online:

  • Always make sure your connection to the remote site is secure
  • Use PayPal whenever possible to protect yourself from fraud
  • Use strong passwords when signing up services involving finances
  • Split up your passwords and don’t share them

Stay tuned for the third part of this series, we’ll talk about shopping victoriously and finding great deals without getting screwed over!

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