5 Smart and Safe eBay Shopper Tips

Shopping is for people with time and money. When I am a consumer, it’s because I need something, and not necessarily the biggest or the best something. I need something practical, safe, and smart. eBay allows consumers to search for exactly what they need, and can be a great place to find hard-to-get items.

Overall, eBay can be a good experience if you know what you are doing. But take it from me: knowing what you are doing takes time and focus. Don’t just jump on eBay and whip out your credit card. You may get burnt in more ways than one.

1. Avoid scams by looking at the sellers’ feedback ratings. A rating of one indicates that the seller is either a “newbie” or a criminal. Certainly, we all have to start somewhere. But personally, I draw the line at sellers with a feedback rating of at least 15, and I still check to see what they’ve bought and sold. If they’ve bought or sold 15 items at $1 each, that’s a red flag. Sellers with higher ratings are generally experienced professionals.

2. Search deeply before bidding. Check to see if the same item is available from a different seller, how the “Buy Now” price varies, and how much others are bidding. The highest bid may be much lower than the “Buy Now” price. Consider how much time is left to bid to help determine what the final sale price may be.

3. Walk before you run. If there are plenty of the item you want available but prices are all over the place, sit back and “Watch” a few to see where the final sales prices end up.

4. Set up alerts. I set up eBay alerts for any items I’m looking for. I receive messages with all the current items for sale, and then only the new ones being listed on eBay each day. This allows me to effectively manage my purchasing.

5. Use Auction Sniper. I never bid on eBay. The more your presence is known the more opportunities there are for criminals to contact you. Protect your identity with Auction Sniper, you bid anonymously the absolute highest dollar amount you’re willing to spend on that item, and walk away. Auction Sniper will snipe the bid for you in the last five seconds while people wonder where the heck you came from.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse on Fox News.