Identity Theft

145903057This was originally part of my eBay feature article, but it evolved into a story of its own. Although there is a lot of earning potential on eBay because sellers can reach infinite numbers of buyers, selling on eBay isn’t without risk.

I met the subject of the story at an auction, and she was more than willing to share her story as a warning to other sellers. Her very success, it turns out, is what made her a target for identity thieves.

A rhinestone jewelry reseller from West Grove treasured the significant sales she was making on eBay until an identity thief trashed her account.

They dragged her rhinestone reputation through the mud by selling John Deere tractor for $19,000, among other things, under her screen name.

As a powerseller, the woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was popular with customers.

“Rhinestones are hot right now,” she said. The eBay site suite her lifestyle, and afforded her the best of two worlds: She could stay at home with her children, while enjoying a healthy income.

Unfortunately, her positive screen presence also caught the attention of identity thieves. They prey upon powersellers, she said, because they can use their pristine account, feedback and ratings to facilitate bogus sales.

Someone sent her a fraudulent email last November, the woman explained, that was identical to one she received from eBay when she first started selling. The message requested she resubmit her account information for the coming year. She happily obliged, as the email looked official.

Shortly thereafter, her password was changed, and she was locked out of her own account. She watched helplessly while an identity imposter sold items under her screen name and tarnished her stellar, power-seller status by not sending the items they promised.

Buyers started posting negative feedback, and canceling payment. EBay security noted the suspicious activity, and emailed her immediately, but the damage had already been done.

She attempted to contact eBay repeatedly, hoping they could help her locate the person that racked up $800 worth of sellers’ fees in her account, and caused her to lose three months worth of sales. Although eBay apologized via email and adjusted her fees and negative feedback ratings, she was frustrated that she “never got live chat with anyone” about her predicament.

Although Hani Durzy described identity theft as only a “small problem” on eBay, he said the woman’s story fits the profile. He explained that thieves typically target sellers with a good reputation, and “list something that will draw a lot of attention from other eBay users,” like a motorcycle. Read more…

Reprinted with permission from the Delaware County Daily Times.