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Safeguarding Member IDs 

 

What is the Safeguarding Member ID project?
The Safeguarding Member IDs project is a new approach to auction-style listings that offers more privacy for our members through changing how bidding information is displayed. We believe that this change will help to balance the need for openness and transparency in the marketplace, with the need to protect our Community of members from the threats that have appeared as the Internet has flourished. We also believe the Safeguarding Member IDs project provides the Community with enough information about the bidders involved in an auction-style listing for them to feel confident in placing a bid -- without revealing actual User IDs. We're implementing this new system on listings where the high bid is $200 or greater, which is where we believe it can have the greatest positive impact. The bid information for listings where the bid is lower than $200 will display as it does today.

Here's what will change:
1)
On the bid history page for each listing we’ll replace User IDs with aliases in the order that bidders place their first bid.  For each bidder involved in a listing, we’ll display the number of bids that they've placed in unique categories, a range that their feedback score falls within (i.e. 10-49, for instance), their percentage of positive feedback, their length of time as an eBay member, and the number of bids they’ve placed on the item. At the end of a listing, the winning bidder’s User ID will be displayed on the item page. 
Please note: Sellers will still be able to access bidder information on their listings through the bid history page and the My eBay selling table.
2) In My eBay, members will no longer have access to the high-bidder column from bid and watch tables.
3) On the item page, you’ll only be able to see the high-bidder ID if you are the signed-in seller of the item or the signed-in high bidder.
4) Through the Advanced Search by Bidder link, we’ll only show completed listings within the last 30 days.  

Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction. We'll continue to update the Community on these changes as these plans become finalized. 

Why is eBay making this change?
Since eBay began in 1995, it's been our job to balance the need for openness and transparency in the marketplace, with the need to protect our Community of members from the threats that have appeared as the internet has flourished. As the Community has grown from the size of a small town in 1997, to the size of a large country today, we've had to take measures to protect our members that also reduce transparency.

From the beginning, any member of the Community could request the contact details of any other member and the bidding process was very transparent. As we've grown, we've limited communication to members involved in transactions with each other. Additionally in 2003, we eliminated the public display of email addresses from the site, and therefore, required thousands of people to set up new User IDs. Naturally, as we've stepped up education and other efforts to improve safety, the bad guys continued their efforts to try to exploit our members.

The User IDs of members -- plus their member information such as feedback and previous bidding and/or buying activity -- have always been freely available to anyone visiting the site. Members have been able to access this information from the item page, bid history page, and Advanced Search by Bidder feature. Unfortunately -- while bid history and contact information about trading colleagues is helpful to evaluate a transaction and provides a level of trust within the transaction – bad guys can use this information for potentially harmful purposes.

As our Community knows, the problem of spam, spoof, and fake Second Chance Offer emails has not gone away. In fact, despite industry leading efforts to educate the Community about online safety (eBay Toolbar, tutorials and safety messaging), partnering with law enforcement and industry groups, and investments in technology that make the site more safe -- we've seen this problem grow. Increasingly, sellers and buyers have turned to us for a solution. 

We believe the Safeguarding Member IDs project provides the Community with enough information about the bidders involved in an auction-style listing in order for them to feel confident in placing a bid -- without revealing actual User IDs.

What is the timing of this launch for eBay.com?
Our first step is to launch on eBay Motors in early November 2006. If all goes well, we could implement Safeguarding Member IDs on eBay.com sometime in early 2007.

Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction.  We'll continue to update the Community on these changes as these plans become finalized.

How can I stay safe on the internet?
Remember these important online safety tips:
• Never pay with Western Union or Money Gram – eBay strongly encourages its members to avoid using instant cash wire transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. It's against eBay's Accepted Payments Policy  for a seller to request payment via these methods as they've proven to be unsafe when paying someone the buyer doesn't know.
• Check My Messages to verify the authenticity of eBay emails – Any email eBay sends you about your account or requesting personal information will also be in My Messages. Before responding to an eBay email asking for information about your account or requesting personal information, verify it's authentic by checking My Messages. If it's not in My Messages, it's a fake email. If you receive a suspicious email that looks like it's from eBay or PayPal, please forward it to spoof@ebay.com or spoof@paypal.com. We will respond (usually within minutes) to tell you whether or not the email is authentic.
• Always Verify Second Chance Offers – Sending fake Second Chance Offers is a common trick used by fraudsters. If you receive an email with a Second Chance Offer for an item you recently bid on, please check your My Messages inbox (located in My eBay) on the eBay site to make sure the offer is authentic. If it appears in My Messages with the title "eBay Second Chance Offer for Item...", it's authentic. If the Second Chance Offer does not appear in My Messages, or appears with a different title, it is not legitimate and should be ignored. Help us fight this, by reporting these fakes to spoof@ebay.com.
• Download the eBay Toolbar and the PayPal SafetyBar – The eBay Toolbar includes Account Guard which indicates when you are on a legitimate eBay or PayPal site, and alerts you when you are on a known fraudulent site. PayPal's SafetyBar detects fraudulent emails in your email program and puts them in the spam folder.
• Monitor your account regularly for suspicious activity – Prevent problems by staying alert and catching any suspicious activity early. We recommend that you log into your eBay and PayPal accounts frequently to ensure that all the transactions listed are legitimate.
• Be suspicious of any email that requests personal information – Be cautious of other emails that request you to click a link and submit your financial or personal information. If in doubt, call or contact the institution first to verify the authenticity of the email. Many of these emails will impart a sense of urgency and require you to do something. For example, your account has been suspended, click here to learn more. Do not click on any links in this type of email if you can not verify it is authentic. Only enter your financial information on secure websites. Check that a website is secure by looking for the closed lock symbol near the bottom of your browser window. And, of course, use a payment method such as PayPal, which lets you pay without sharing your financial information with the person receiving your money. PayPal also covers you 100% against unauthorized money sent from your account.

Will eBay lose trust of buyers by hiding bidder information?
It's very important that eBay buyers trust our buying process. That's why we are developing an approach that will give members information about relevant transaction activity for the members involved in an auction-style listing without revealing specific User IDs.
   
We will launch the first phase of Safeguarding Member IDs on eBay Motors. Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction.  We'll continue to update the Community on these changes as these plans become finalized.

While we believe Safeguarding Member IDs is the right thing to do for the Community, we're taking a cautious approach to implementation to avoid any disruption to the marketplace. We'll be monitoring the impact of these changes carefully, and we'll continue to listen to our Community's input.

After the changes to bid history are launched, how will eBay detect shill bidding?
First, eBay is committed to prevent shill bidding from occurring on our site. It's important to remember that, while the public will not have access to User IDs under the Safeguarding Bidder ID site changes, eBay will continue to have the same access to information that we have today. 

eBay takes the issue of shill bidding (the use of a secondary bidding account to increase the level of bidding and the apparent value of an item) very seriously. Shill bidding is a violation that, when detected, leads to an immediate suspension or sanction.  In addition, shill bidding is a crime in many states.

In the last several years, we've invested heavily in shill detection systems that enable us to proactively detect and investigate possible shill bidding scenarios with a higher rate of accuracy than ever before. Our backend systems collect more information on selling and bidding activity than our Community has access to, so we can detect patterns and ascertain identities much more accurately.

With the information provided as part of the Safeguarding Member ID project, we believe that members will still be able to detect and report suspicious activity.While we proactively search the site for shill bidding, we do appreciate the reports from the Community of suspicious activity and will continue to investigate them and take action where appropriate.

If I can't see the User ID of the member who outbid me, how do I know that the bid was legitimate?
We've spent a lot of time analyzing how our members use the bidding information today. The Safeguarding Member ID project was developed based on many conversations with members. They told us their needs during the bidding process, as well as their concerns about safety.

While specific User IDs will not be visible, individual bidders will be identified by an alias (such as bidder1, bidder2, etc.). For each bidder involved in a listing, we'll display the number of bids that they've placed in unique categories, a range that their feedback score falls within (i.e. 10- 49, for instance), their percentage of positive feedback, their length of time as an eBay member, and the number of bids they've placed on the item.

Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction. We'll continue to update the Community on these changes as these plans become finalized.

Naturally, if you ever suspect any suspicious activity, you can report it as you do today through the eBay Toolbar or through Help on the site.

If I'm a seller, can I see the bid history on my own listings?
Yes, if you are the seller you will continue to have access to the User IDs for the bidders on your active listing through the bid history page and the My eBay selling table.

What will be the impact on 3rd party tools?
Some 3rd party tool providers will need to make adjustments. Please work directly with these service providers for more details.

How will members spot malicious bidding or attempts by others to interfere with the site?
Malicious bidding is an action perpetrated against a seller. In this case, the logged in seller will still be able to see the member User IDs on the bid history page. A seller can also click through to a bidder's eBay My World page to view their feedback. Through the feedback pages, a seller will be able to see a bidder's most recent items where there has been feedback exchanged.

Can members search for one another using the "Items by Bidder" option under Advanced Search?
A member can search for another member using Advanced Search, "Items by Bidder"; however, only completed items won in the last 30 days will be displayed. In contrast, today's functionality displays all the items the member has bid or won in the last 30 days.

I use Advanced Search "Items by Bidder" to find other sellers with listings I might want to bid on. Will I lose this ability?
You will lose the ability to see active listings a member has bid on after the release in November. We hope to provide slightly more transparency in a release in early 2007.

 




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