By Stacey Roske
Early this summer I had my first experience with spoof emails – the email indicated that I could win a Mercedes by registering below – I just needed to add my eBay user id and password. Well, although the email “appeared” to come from eBay the grammar was questionable – it just couldn’t have been from eBay. I deleted that note and several others – before receiving a Power Seller newsletter warning of Spoof emails.

OK, I thought, so that’s what they look like – no problem – I can’t be fooled!

Yes, that’s what I thought until one bleary eyed night when I opened an email that read WARNING: YOUR EBAY ACCOUNT HAS BEEN SUSPENDED PENDING VERIFICATION OF YOUR IDENTITY! Please input your user id and password below. And guess who started doing just that? Until my husband noticed, thankfully, before I hit send!

Yes, I was fooled.

Since then the spoof email we receive just keeps getting better and better. They look real and the information consumers provide allows internet thieves to steal millions of dollars. Click here to see a copy of the most recent email we received.

So, how can you protect yourself? eBay suggests the following:

  1. Learn how to identify a Spoof email. When it comes to online safety, education is the best prevention. You can see these rules by visiting the eBay Security Center.
  2. Do not provide sensitive contact, account or financial information in an email. Legitimate companies do not ask for your ATM PIN, account password, mother’s maiden name or your social security number in an email.
  3. Periodically check your accounts and change your passwords. This preventative step is one of the best actions to prevent fraudsters from stealing your personal, private information.
  4. If you have any doubt about the authenticity of an eBay or PayPal email, simply go to the site without clicking on the link in the email and perform the requested action. For example, an email from eBay Billing seeking listing fee payment will always allow you to pay via your My eBay page.

Unfortunately, spoof emails are not going to go away anytime soon. And internet thieves will continue to get more and more sophisticated as the technology improves. As customers, the best defense is offense (hey, it is football season). As responsible merchants, it is our responsibility to educate our customers and the community at large.

Trade safe – be careful and protect your personal information.

Take the eBay Tutorial – Detecting Spoof Emails