More fraud protection needed on eBayMany people are unaware of fraudulent activity

25 February 2006

Internet auction site eBay should be doing more to shield its customers from the growing threat of fraud, according to Computing Which?.

Each month about 130 eBay related crimes are reported to London's Metropolitan Police, a trend thought to be mirrored right across the UK.

Police chiefs say the threat of fraud is increasing, with criminals turning away from drugs and robbery in favour of profitable low risk scams on eBay.

Phishing, fraud and counterfeit goods

The type of fraud ranges from spoof emails asking for a user's eBay account details (phishing) to money transfer scams and the sale of counterfeit and illegal goods.

But although eBay does take measures to protect its customers, we think it could be more proactive in fighting fraud.

For example, all eBay auction pages contain a link to its Safety Centre where users can report problems and get advice.

But Computing Which? says that finding the tiny Safety Centre link at the foot of the page is 'like looking for a needle in a haystack'.

Security measures to beat fraud

Police have also welcomed eBay's anti-fraud measures such as its secure payment service PayPal, which is much safer than money transfers.

But Computing Which? Editor Jessica Ross says these measures can only go so far and educating people on the dangers of eBay is equally important: 'Many people see eBay as a bit of fun, like Friends Reunited, and no one's denying that it's quick and easy to use. But there's plenty of opportunity for criminals to cash in too.

'I think eBay needs to educate people about the dangers of using the site. This 21st century car boot sale attracts more than a few dodgy characters and gangs can 'earn' huge amounts defrauding everyday eBayers.'

How can eBay make buying online safer?

Computing Which? is now calling on eBay to:

  • be proactive in identifying illegal or counterfeit items for sale on its site
  • warn customers about the dangers of fraud
  • stop the unlicensed selling of medical products such as contact lenses
  • make the Safety Centre prominent on auction pages

You can read more about how to stay safe on eBay in the Computing Which? report (see related links below).