The Shapiro Files

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ebay Headache

For several years now, I’ve been enjoying the ability to recapture some of the more tangible odds and ends of my childhood by way of the wondrous Ebay. Everything from The Letter People (arguably the reason I’ve grown up loving reading so much) to Dynamite Magazine and everything in between has been available to me through Ebay’s funky “everything and the kitchen sink” virtual garage sale site.

So you can imagine how broken-hearted I was when I recently received a series of email alerts from Ebay that someone had stolen my account and created dozens (possibly hundreds) of auctions selling expensive name-brand handbags (of all things!). This, in turn, led to my account being suspended.

“How did that happen?” I asked myself. After all, I do work in the tech industry and know to be very careful about not being fooled into clicking on links found in “spoof” emails. And it’s not like I’ve been especially careless with my passwords either. Nonetheless, Ebay identify theft happened and I had to deal with it.

The good news is that Ebay has a relatively user-friendly online “Live Chat” support system and they were able to set everything straight fairly quickly. It looks like my user feedback rating is unchanged (all positive!) and I am once again free to continue searching for a replacement to that Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots set that went missing during a move at age 11.

So if nothing else, I guess I might as well look at this odd bump in the Ebay road as a learning/teaching opportunity. And with that, here’s some advice for fellow online shopaholics:

  • Change your passwords regularly (and try to combine both letters and numbers if possible)
  • Make sure your email and online shopping passwords are different
  • Periodically check your account information on your various online shopping destinations to ensure the address and phone number listed is actually yours
  • Never click on links directly in emails from Ebay, Amazon, Paypal, etc. unless you know how to view the email message’s raw source code and can verify the email is not spoofed. Remember, you can always log on a website from scratch and click on the “Account” link from there. There’s never any reason to click on such “Account information needed” links directly from emails.
  • As a courtesy to your friends and family members, avoid using “share with a friend” input boxes/links at all but the most well-known websites (sites such as, The Onion, and a handful of others are OK). Instead, just copy and paste the URL (web address) from your web browser address bar and email that link directly. Otherwise, when you enter an email address into one of those online input boxes, you’re often inadvertently signing up that address for every spam list on the planet.


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