Auction fraud refers to fraudulent transactions that take place through auction and classifieds websites.  Either a product advertised may be misrepresented by the seller or the items sold are never delivered at all.

This holiday season, as you seek out hard-to-find gifts and look for the best prices, keep in mind that not everyone out there on the wild, wild web has good intentions.

Auction sites are ground zero for scammers. It’s very easy to set up a free auction page from anywhere in the world, collect people’s money, and run.

Here are four tips to keep you safe when shopping through auction websites.

  1. Use strong passwords: Use complex passwords that are hard to crack but easy to remember. Passwords should include upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and, if possible, other characters.
  2. Look out for phishing emails: Any email that appears to have been sent from an auction site should be considered suspect. Certainly there are legitimate communications being sent by eBay and similar sites, but none of them should require a direct email response. To confirm that a communication is legitimate, always go to the website directly via your favorites menu, log into your account normally, and check your “My Messages” folder, rather than clicking any links within the email.
  3. Secure your device: Whether you shop using a tablet, smartphone, PC, or Mac, they all need some form of antivirus protection. At the very least, the operating system should be kept up to date with all the latest security patches. Any website can potentially pose a threat. Never respond to pop-ups that claim your computer or other device has been infected and instruct you to install antivirus software. This is actually “scareware.”
  4. Buy from trusted sources: Some may not like my saying so, but buying from sellers with no track history is risky. If sellers have less than five transactions under their belt, they may be scammers. My rule of thumb is never but from anyone with fewer than ten transactions, and even then I take all their feedback into account before purchasing. If a seller has ten transactions but all those purchases are less than a dollar in value, that seller is still suspect.

Online classified and auction websites can do more to protect legitimate buyers and sellers by identifying fraudsters faster with advanced device identification.  iovation Inc.’s fraud prevention service is called ReputationManager 360 and incorporates device identification, device reputation analysis, and geolocation, velocity, and anomaly checks in its real-time risk profiling. iovation is used by hundreds of online businesses to prevent fraud and abuse by analyzing the computers, smartphones, and tablets being used to connect to their online properties.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Black Friday/Cyber Monday Scams on Mike and Juliet Show  Disclosures

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