The sender of this message wants you to believe this is a legitimate notice from eBay regarding a message that’s been left for you by another member. Putting “unpaid item” in the subject line is a call for action–either you haven’t paid somebody and need to rush to protect your good rating, or somebody else hasn’t paid you (and the message isn’t clear on which it is) and you want your money.
But more is going on here than meets the eye. Of course the first question to ask yourself is whether you have ever used eBay before. If you have, then have you used it recently and does it make sense to be getting a message about an unpaid item? If you have bought or sold something recently, you should know the alias of the buyer or seller involved, and if this name doesn’t match that, there’s a scam in the works.
Remember to check out www.Snopes.com when you get a potential scam e-mail to see if it’s hit their scam radar, or to report it yourself.
Test Your Skills
You should be able to find at least five red flags that tell you this e-mail is fraudulent. Click on the picture below to see the answers, but try to find them yourself, first. If you find all five, you’re a pro with little to worry about. If you find fewer than four, consider practicing on some more of our spam scam examples.
Here are the red flags in this message:
- firstname.lastname@example.org is not a legitimate eBay address. Typically their addresses use understandable words such as “endofitem” or “member”, not initials.
- If you didn’t buy or sell something recently on eBay you shouldn’t get this message; if you did, do you recognize your buyer/seller’s alias? Why is the item not described, only given as an item number which you can’t possibly be expected to recognize?
- They should know your name and eBay alias, not just call you ‘member’.
- The only link is to respond to a dispute. Any buyer or seller will make several attempts to contact you before placing a transaction into dispute. Clicking this link will either lead you to a fraudulent site or download malware.
- There is no standard eBay disclaimer and privacy statement language at the end of this e-mail.
If you receive such an e-mail and you are not sure whether it references a legitimate transaction, log onto eBay and check your recent transactions to see if a buyer/seller alias or a transaction number matches those given in this message. If there is, use the communication methods from within eBay to communicate with the buyer/seller. If not, notify eBay that somebody is trying to scam you using their good name.