Even if you're not an eBay user yet, you've probably received one or several worrying email messages that seem to be from eBay, accusing you of wrongdoing or asking you to log in and "fix" problems with your account.
These messages are clever fakes, known in the Internet industry as "phishes" or "spoofs." They're not from eBay at all, and there isn't an ounce of truth in whatever they tell you, despite the fact that they often look exactly like a message that you might have received from eBay. In fact, they're a kind of SPAM (which is why people who aren't even members of eBay often receive them) sent by mobsters and crooks and designed to get you to give your personal information to people who will use it for ill.
Identifying Phishes and SpoofsPhishes and spoofs arrive in your email box just like any other message. They certainly seem to be from eBay. Often they even bear the eBay logo or look just like the eBay website or other correspondence you may have received from eBay. They are almost always vaguely threatening:
"eBay has determined that you are committing fraud. Log in now to verify your information, or your account will be suspended and you will be investigated."
"Your account will be suspended unless you fix your problems. Please log in to check."
"You have been suspended under section 9 of eBay rules. Verify your information or your case will be prosecuted."
"eBay has detected that someone is trying to access your account. Log in now to verify your information and protect your account."
Sometimes, they will appear to come from eBay trading partners, but in regard to auctions that you never bid on or listed:
"Question from eBay member johnnybarakat: The price for one new nokia 8800 is only $240?Please responde ASAP!!"
"Why haven't you paid for the auction you won? Answer me immediately or I will complain to eBay!"
When you receive them, these types of messages look like the real thing. They generally either present you with the option of "logging in" by entering your eBay ID and password or are clickable—taking you to what appears to be the eBay website when you "Respond Now" or "Log in by clicking here."
The catch, however, is that when you try to log in using these email messages, you're not really dealing with eBay. Because of this, responding to these types of messages or interacting with them in any way is dangerous.
Read on to find out why.