Online Auction Trader

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Masking of all Bidder ID’s going live on

This is a copy of the announcement made on about the changes that will mask all bidders ids on the site…


This is Matt Halprin, eBay’s Vice President in charge of Global Trust & Safety. As eBay continues to grow into a global online marketplace we are a natural target for online criminals. As you may know, fraud related to fake Second Chance Offers has been a significant challenge to the safety of our marketplace. Fraudsters send these authentic-looking, malicious emails to bidders on auction-style listings in an effort to convince them to send them funds. Unsuspecting bidders get fooled into thinking they are dealing with a legitimate seller, and agree to send funds (often by an unapproved method like Western Union, a major red flag that fraud is involved) in exchange for receiving an item like the one they had recently hoped to win.
Combating fraud by protecting our Community’s identities
In January 2007, the Safeguarding Member IDs project was launched on for auction-style listings of $200 or greater to reduce the negative impact that these fraudsters have on the marketplace. Last August we also made enhancements to bring back more of the transparency to the bidding process, which our Community told us was important. These changes did not reduce bidding on auction listings above $200 and virtually eliminated fraudsters’ attempts at this price level.

How Safeguarding Member IDs works

Bidder User IDs are “masked,” so that scammers can’t tell who is bidding on a listing and therefore cannot target them with official-looking spoof email. The masked User ID’s consist of two random characters from the member’s User ID – for example, a***b. This method of identifying a bidder (whose feedback score is also visible) gives legitimate members a sense of who is bidding, while protecting the bidders’ identities. (Please note that sellers who are logged in can see all the actual User IDs for the bidders on their listings.)

I’d like to address a common question we hear - How do scammers get a bidder’s email address? Unfortunately, a high percentage of eBay members have registered an email address that is very close or identical to their User ID. Fraudsters attempt to send emails to the bidders they are targeting by using the User ID, plus several of the most common domain names – i.e. [email protected] , [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] This combination yields a very high success rate for them. Subsequently, too many eBay bidders get fooled – and lose their money - as an unfortunate result.

The state of fake Second Chance Offers (or attempts by criminals to tempt you into a false transaction) today
For over a year, these masked User IDs have proven to be very successful on these higher-end listings. In fact, we saw the volume of fake Second Chance Offers for $200 or more drop significantly. We’ve also worked to educate members about the importance of unique email addresses, and we have aggressively targeted members who have risky User ID/email combinations to encourage them to change. Please note - If your User ID matches your email address, please protect yourself by changing your User ID so your user ID doesn’t match your email address. Please also review our Password Tips.

While these efforts are important, we must do more to stop this type of fraud. Despite all our previous efforts, criminals have adjusted their methods and the overall problem persists. By increasing the volume of fake Offers that they send now to buyers of lower priced items, they hope they can make the same returns they’d been making on higher-end items.

Protecting buyer’s identities as they bid on all auction-style listings

To protect the Community from this growing safety threat, we have made the decision to mask User IDs for bidders on all auction-style listings on and Motors. This change will go into effect later this week. Even with all this history and need, we understand that masking User IDs on all auction-style listings is a significant change, and it this is not a step we are taking lightly. However, in light of today’s environment - and the damage fake email offers pose to our members and to overall buyer trust in the marketplace – it’s imperative we act now to make this change.

I appreciate your support – working together, our efforts are helping keep the marketplace a safe place to buy and sell.


Matt Halprin
Vice President, Global Trust & Safety


My first reaction is that it is quite a positive move but after a short think I would like to know how this move may affect an increase in shill bidding and the associated impact that this will have on the Ebay marketplace. In all honesty I can see this as the only drawback, with the rest being a positive move in terms of security to protect those unsuspecting “newbies” oe even non savvy “oldies”….thoughts??

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