Looking for red flags
Whenever I want to purchase something through eBay, I first run through steps in my head to try to identify red flags. If I see too many red flags or sometimes even one, I will not hesitate to move on to the next seller. I don't know who originally said it but I found it to be true more than once: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Doing research and using common sense
First thing I always check is seller feedback. If I don't see 100% positive feedback, I'll look at negative comments to see what unhappy buyers have to say. Sometimes seller responds to negative comments and I'll be able to get a feel of the type of person this seller is. For instance, if I see seller calling buyers names I might move on to the next seller. On the other hand, even if I see lower feedback score but I see that seller explains negative comments and those answers make sense, I might still consider this seller.
I also like to see what other items the seller is currently selling and also what they sold in the past. This can give me clues if the seller is legit. For example, if I see that seller was selling some kind of cheap items in the past and suddenly started selling some expensive items that would raise a red flag for me. On the other hand if the seller lists similar items as in the past and received positive feedback for those items, I'm probably not going to get scammed.
See my Research eBay Seller blog post for more in depth explanation on how to check feedback and research seller.
While looking at seller's other items for sale, I also like to look at pictures to make sure all of them look similar especially if the item I'm considering is expensive. If I see totally different pictures from one listing to the next (with different setup, background) that could be an indication that the seller stole the pictures and actually does not have those items.
Transactions outside of eBay
Be very careful if you get contacted by a seller asking you to complete the transaction outside of eBay. I learned this one the hard way in 2003 when I was scammed on eBay in exactly this way. Although I think now it's a lot harder for seller to contact you, keep this in mind.
To avoid being scammed on eBay, make sure you do some research before you purchase. Use common sense and remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Check out my other blog posts for more eBay buying tips. If you're looking for good deals, try my eBay software for buyers called Buyer Auction Manager. It will help you save money and find bargains.