EBay security?

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by taba, Oct 18, 2002.

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  1. taba

    taba Registered Member

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    Anyone here familiar with security issues on EBay? I was about to setup a sellers account (for an online garage sale of some antique glassware, etc.) and was surprised at the signup requirements. The options are 1) give your credit card and banking account or 2) fill in your credit report details for ID Verify by Equifax. The ID Verify supposedly doesn't store info on EBay (it's just "used to check your identity", but I am uncomfortable giving so many critical details to ANY company.

    Any comments on ways to be as safe as possible if you must use one of these options? Maybe even a way to avoid giving checking account or entire credit report? Credit card is fine, but checking account and credit report are not something I share with online companies. I just wonder what happens with that info 5 years down the line.
     
  2. luv2bsecure

    luv2bsecure Infrequent Poster

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    Taba,

    This is an excellent question. Forgive the length because this will probably take a few paragraphs, but I hope I can be helpful. Because of the problem with Internet fraud, eBay has gone to some extraordinary lengths to shut down fraudulent sellers. I applaud eBay for this, but as a privacy advocate, have had some problems with the whole checking account thing. In fact, so many online sites are now using this to "verify" your identity (figuring your bank account info, once verified, cuts their risks considerably by showing "stability"). All online payment systems (PayPal, etc) are now wanting this information.

    There are two routes that I always recommend and USE.

    1. To "verify" a bank account -- well, let them! Just don't let them verify your real or active bank account. Make a stop one day by one of the smaller banks offering "totally free checking" - that means no fees, no minimum balances, a truly free account. Some, require as little as $20 to open one of these. In my city, many require $50 or $100. Fine. Open the account with the minimum. Let's say $50. A week later use one of your starter checks to get $45 back in cash. Then - leave the account alone. Once every six months or so deposit a few bucks so they don't consider it a "dormant" account (usually defined as either six months or one year with no activity depending on the bank). With this account, give absolute minimal information. Banks still must accept P.O. Boxes as addresses. If they insist on a street address, explain you have personal safety issues with this and would prefer to just go with the box - they will. A P.O. Box is good to have for anybody wanting to maintain privacy anyway and the rates in the U.S. are now $23 for a small box for six months - $4 a month well spent. You do NOT have to list phone numbers on checks - so don't for this account. OR, just totally (I hate to say this - but you fight fire with fire) give an old phone number having a momentary lapse in memory. Remember, this is just a "does John or Jane Doe maintain an account with the information they provided to us for verification" account. And then use that phone number as part of the verification process. It's not like anybody picks up the phone and calls - it's just computer databases exchanging information you give them and seeing if they match. It sounds like a hassle, but it's a 30-minute deal at the most and the rental of the Box which takes all of 10 minutes. You now have your "bank account" that verifies to eBay (or whoever) that you really are you!

    2. The other option is the "ID Verify" through Equifax which - and this is hard to say as I despise these credit reporting agencies and their unreliable databases and big brother-like collection of minutia about our lives - BUT, it is really not a bad choice. Using it with eBay which many people use it for costs $5 or so. It's not so bad because you give up
    no information! You only verify it. What they will do is direct you to a secure site where you are asked for your name and SS# (the two things these CRA live by). They then present a series of questions only you will know in a multiple choice format. Example: You have a credit card with Citibank that ends with the last four numbers:
    1) 4197
    2) 3875
    3) 9765
    4) none of the above
    They ask you about six of these kinds of questions that you must answer correctly - and that's it. You are then "verified" and eBay is told by Equifax you are who you say you are and Equifax made a quick $5. You are not asked for information. You are only asked to connect the dots of the information they already have. So, as I said - as much as I despise Equifax - this is a safe program considering you don't actually give up ANY information they don't have in their dirty little databases anyway and eBay gets none of the info, only a thumbs up or a thumbs down on your identity.

    Sorry this was so long, but this is a good question that I can't remember coming up before. So many e-commerce sites are now using the checking account verification or Equifax "ID Verify" program to cut their fraud losses. Sometimes the computer privacy issues and just good old-fashioned privacy issues cross paths - this is one of those times. Probably the best advice you could take from the above is get a P.O. Box and use it as the mailing address for everything and never, ever connect your name with your current address in a database. It's even safe with utilities because they will send the bill to your mailing address (P.O. Box) and it is just cross-referenced with your service address - the database sharing that goes on with all of these places will be exchanging your mailing address.

    Okay....I could go on all day with these issues so I'll stop here. I hope I have helped some and you can maintain as much privacy as you can because to me: privacy equals freedom.

    Best Wishes and have a great week!!!
    John
    Luv2bSecure
     
  3. taba

    taba Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    Posts:
    25
    Wow. Thanks for such a great response, luv2bsecure. I appreciate your time and suggestions. All very good ideas. My reply is also long so hope you don't mind.

    I've decided the only way I'll be comfortable using EBay is with a new, separate checking account if a checking account is required. I have a separate credit card for all online purchases. ID Verified sounds like it might be an even better option but I'm still not clear on how it allows you to avoid registering a bank account. I've sent an email to EBay support for clarification.

    Past experience with an online stalker and also identity fraud makes it scary to give my home address or any more financial details than absolutely necessary. As you know, anyone on EBay you transact with can access your home address and phone number. I know my concerns may sound paranoid to most people, but once burned, twice shy. So to avoid giving away my home address to EBayers, I'd have to get 1) a PO Box, then use that address to get 2) a new checking account, and 3) a new credit card. Not sure my little storage cleanout project justifies such expenses and effort. I'm still hoping to make it work.

    Still unclear about how to sell using ID Verify alone despite lots of reading. Signup seems to funnel info through EBay to Equifax if you get verified online. When I started through the ID Verify process (done on an EBay secure server - not Equifax's systems btw), it asked for details I don't want anywhere near EBay. Like ss#, DL#, and other credit report details that I don't want stored on EBay servers somewhere. I know they say they don't save the info, but Enron also said they were profitable. ;)

    Found a phone number (1-800-820-1399) to verify directly with Equifax. Much better option IMPO (in my paranoid opinion). Can't find info on how to sell on EBay if you are just ID Verified and don't register a credit card and banking account to create a sellers account.

    From the EBay's help site (http://pages.ebay.com/help/sellerguide/selling-account.html):
    This implies that you can use ID Verify only and sell on EBay without creating a sellers account.(?) The sellers account signup gives no ID Verify option - just the card and bank account requirements. Guess I need to research that now. Hopefully EBay support will give specifics in their reply to my question.

    Sure wish I'd signed up before June 2001 when they started requiring bank account access.
     
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