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Protecting yourself against scams
In this article
In this article


We've seen several fake emails and websites that are designed to look like they come from us, copying our logo and talking about features and services that we offer. But in reality these phony emails and sites are from bad guys who want to rip people off.

These scams often involve car purchases outside of eBay, usually at other websites like AutoTrader.com and Craigslist. A seller offers a car (that they have no intention of delivering) at a very low price. When a transaction starts, they send the buyer fake invoices, often asking for payment via wire transfer while claiming to be affiliated with eBay or offering eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection.

How to tell if it's a scam

You can avoid scams by knowing what to watch out for. Here are some of the most common scams we've seen:

Fake (spoof) emails

These emails try to look like they came from a legitimate business like eBay, but they're from scammers who want to trick you into giving out personal information like your address or sending money via wire transfer. Here are some examples:

Pretending to offer eBay features and services

Scammers often use eBay's name, features, and services to make it seem like the transaction is legitimate. For example:

False claims

The seller lies about a variety of things, including:

  • Asking for payment via wire transfer because they lost their job and need the cash immediately.

  • Saying they can't show the car because it's stored at a shipping company.

  • Not being able to meet in person because they're out of the country.

Tips on how to avoid scams

Follow these tips when buying cars on eBay.

Double-check if the email is really from eBay.
Make sure an email is from us by checking your messages in My eBay. Go to My eBay, and then click the Messages tab. If you don't see the same message there, the email is fake.
Avoid using Western Union, MoneyGram, or other wire transfers.
A wire transfer (typically paid out with cash, money order, or a cashier's check) is an easy way for scammers to rip people off because there's usually no protection against this type of transaction. Ask the seller if you can use a safer payment method like PayPal or a credit card.
Tip: Use the Ask a question link in the Seller info box in a listing.
Complete the transaction on eBay.
Go through your entire transaction on eBay because it allows you to be eligible for vehicle purchase protection programs. Find out more about buying on eBay Motors and how to safely purchase a vehicle.
If you pay with cash, only do so in person.
When you buy a big-ticket item like a car, it's always a good idea to see it in person first so you can inspect it before closing the deal. You can pay with cash at that time, but make sure you stay alert, keep your cell phone within easy reach, and bring someone along to keep you company.
Find out about various loan options.
Use the Financing Center to get more information on the types of loans you can get for the vehicle.
Be sure the item is covered by eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection.
With eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection, your purchase is covered for up to $50,000 or the vehicle's purchase price, whichever is lower. You're automatically enrolled when you buy an eligible vehicle on eBay Motors. Find out about our other protection programs.
Beware of fake escrow services.
eBay recommends using only Escrow.com. However, beware of emails with links to a fake escrow website. To be safe, you should verify the information in the email by going directly to the company's website. Type the web address (URL) in your browser and go from there. Find out more about using escrow services.

Reporting a problem

Be vigilant. If you come across something that doesn't look or sound right, let us know and report it to the authorities. Here's what you can do:

What to do if...

You already paid for the item

Contact the company you made the payment through to see if you can cancel or dispute the payment.

If you paid by wire transfer, you can contact Western Union at 1-800-325-6000 or MoneyGram at 1-800-926-9400. Generally, if you paid by wire transfer and you don't receive the item, there's no buyer protection and the chances of getting your money back is low.

We recommend contacting local authorities, both where you live and where the seller lives. Let the officers know that eBay is happy to cooperate in the investigation. The officer should contact us at stopfraud@ebay.com. To find local law enforcement agents, visit the USACops website.


You didn't get the item

If you haven't received the item you paid for or it doesn't match the seller's description, open a case in the eBay Resolution Center.

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