How Do You Know If a Seller Is Legitimate on eBay?

By Brian Flax

Stay safe on eBay by reviewing the seller’s feedback profile and star rating.
i Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you enjoy shopping online, then eBay can be a great site for deals you can't find anywhere else. However, it can also be risky since you could be unfamiliar with the person or company you are purchasing from. Ebay provides several tools that can help you identify the reputation of a seller and prevent you from getting ripped off in the process.

Seller Profile

The first thing you can do before purchasing from a seller is view their feedback profile. A feedback profile on eBay will show you their recent feedback ratings, detailed seller ratings and feedback received from other anonymous buyers. In addition, you'll also see their geographical location and how long they've been a member. From the feedback profile you'll also find links to other items the seller has listed, other usernames the seller has used and a link to report the seller if you run into problems with a purchase. Ebay determines the seller's detailed seller rating when the user has sold at least 10 products. You can access the seller's feedback profile by clicking on the number in parentheses beside their username.

Feedback System

The feedback system is a great tool that you can find on the seller's feedback profile. The recent feedback section will show you how many positive, neutral and negative reviews the seller has received over the last 12 months. Stay away from sellers with consistent negative feedback. The detailed seller rating is determined by eBay, and ranks the seller in a variety of categories from one to five stars. The higher the stars, the more positive feedback the seller has received from buyers. You can also view feedback left from individual buyers along with their comments and the product that they purchased.

Star Rating System

Sellers receive stars that appear next to their username after they meet a number of criteria from making sales. Once a seller has received 10 positive reviews, they'll receive a gold star next to their username. You'll find a blue star once they receive 50-99 ratings, a turquoise star for 100-499 and a purple star from 500-999 and so on. Sellers can earn up to 12 different stars based on the number of positive feedback ratings they receive. You should look for the stars next to the seller’s username before you purchase from them (see Resources).

Assessing the Seller's Reputation

Using the feedback system and star rating is a great way to help you determine the reputation of a seller on eBay. You may also find it helpful to look at the payment methods the seller accepts and the country where they are located. It may be in your best interest to stay away from foreign sellers that only accept money orders or checks. Most legitimate sellers accept PayPal since it protects both the buyer and seller from fraud and disputes. Ebay also awards power sellers and top-rated sellers with icons on their profiles, so be sure to look for those as well.