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Consumer Scam Warnings About Selling on eBay

By Brett Goldfarb in Consumer Advocacy, Special Reports
December 1st, 2011

Thinking about selling that awful sweater you got as a gift from your great aunt on eBay? Before you do, you might want to read this article and think twice before you sell anything on eBay.

ebay scamHoliday times are here and it’s a given everyone is going to get a gift or two you simply don’t want or can’t use. In the past, it was common to stuff that unwanted gift in a closet, re-gift it to someone else or return it for a refund.

These days, more and more people turn to eBay as an alternative to get rid of that dust collector and put a little cash in the pocket, but best be warned : selling on eBay can be VERY treacherous.

eBay can be a great place to find a potential buyer interested in your unwanted gift but there are numerous pitfalls novice sellers can easily fall into when selling on eBay. Most of these potential problems are due to eBay policies that provide loopholes for crooks to use the eBay Buyer Protection system to their advantage.

eBay also takes up to 15% of your sale price in fees and force sellers to use Paypal for an additional 4% transaction fees. When all is said and done, eBay will pocket nearly 20% of your item’s price for selling in their marketplace that is littered with crooks, scammers and fraudsters. All with zero customer support for sellers.

We spoke to several veteran eBay sellers and they were quick to offer these 7 warnings for casual or novice eBay sellers to avoid potential buyer fraud.

Never Sell Anything on eBay You Can’t Afford to Lose

The eBay sellers we spoke to all were very clear about the fact that you should never sell anything you can’t afford to lose on eBay. In the last year, there have been hundreds of reports of eBay buyers using eBay’s Buyer Protection to scam sellers out of high priced designer items such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton purses by simply claiming the item was not authentic or by pulling a switch and returning a fake item.

Always Ship With Delivery Confirmation

If you’re going to ship anything to an eBay buyer, always, always, always purchase some form of online viewable delivery comfirmation. Without DC, a malicious buyer can simply file an Item Not Received claim and eBay/Paypal will grant them an automatic refund from your bank account or credit card. It is important to note that delivery confirmation is not available for international shipping unless you ship using USPS Express Mail International which is very expensive.

Purchase Signature Confirmation on Orders Over $250

This is another loophole eBay does not inform sellers about but can really come back to bite you in the arse. Any order over $250 (this includes shipping costs) MUST be shipped with signature confirmation in order to qualify for seller protection. There are far too many horror stories from novice sellers who shipped expensive items only to have them stolen by buyers who claimed they didn’t receive it. Again, eBay/Paypal will refund the buyer from your bank account or credit card on file.

Be Prepared for Paypal to Hold Your Funds for 21 Days

Here’s another gotcha that eBay isn’t up front about. All new sellers or sellers not meeting eBay’s secret criteria will be subject to having the funds from their buyers payment held for 21 days by Paypal. This means if you sell a $2000 stereo system on eBay that costs $50 to ship, you will have to pay for the shipping out of pocket and wait for Paypal to release your funds when they see fit.

Beware of Scam Artists Seeking Partial Refunds

Newer sellers with a low feedback score can be assured they will encounter the buyer who complains about the item they were sold but doesn’t want to return it and wants a partial refund. Don’t fall for this scam. This scam is perpetuated by eBay sellers using multiple eBay ID’s (yes, believe it or not, eBay allows people to have more than one ID) who buy on one and sell on another. Never give a partial refund to a buyer for any reason. If they don’t like what you sold them, have them return it for a full refund.

Always Ship to Address on File With Paypal

Another common eBay scam is when a buyer targets a new seller and asks them to ship the item they purchased or won to an address other than the address on file with eBay. If you ship to an address other than the one Ebay/Paypal provides for the transaction, it completely voids your seller protection.

Be Prepared to Accept Returns for 45 Days

No matter what you’re selling on eBay and no matter what you state as a return policy in your listing, eBay will FORCE you to accept returns and issue refunds for 45 days after purchase. This policy is widely abused considering the possibilities for buyers to buy and use an item, then return it at the seller’s expense. Considering Walmart, Best Buy and other retailers no longer accept returns of unsealed CD’s, DVD’s, video games ~ eBay has become the perfect place for people to buy, copy and return.

As you can see from the information provided above, selling on eBay is like tap dancing in a minefield. In most cases, especially where larger, higher priced items are concerned, it’s always best to use an alternative like Craigslist or the newspaper.



Estate Planning 101 : Understanding Trusts

By Candice Taylor in Personal Finance
November 19th, 2011

The most common method for passing assets or property to loved ones after death is by last will and testament but trusts can provide greater control over your last wishes.

estate planning trustsMost people don’t like to talk about it but estate planning is a necessary task for anyone with assets wishing to ensure they are distributed fairly to beneficiaries such as a spouse, significant other, children or grandchildren.

While the most common form of estate planning involves creation of a last will and testament, creating a trust can offer a greater deal of control over how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legally binding relationship by which property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a settlor who places his/her property in the care of a trustee who then legally controls that property for the beneficiaries. While any sort of property may be held in trust, growth assets such as real estate or investments are more commonly placed into trust. A trust can be created during the settlor’s life through a trust instrument or after the settlor’s death through a will.

A trust is solely governed by the terms and conditions under which it was created. The terms of the trust are recorded in a trust instrument or deed with the trustee retaining legal title to the trust property. The beneficiaries have equitable title to the trust property which provides a separation of control and ownership of the property.

While there are many different type of trust for varying purposes, the two most commonly used in estate planning are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust is a trust which may be legally altered, amended or revoked by the settlor at any time. Provided the settlor is not mentally incapacitated, the trust instrument may be freely changed to suit the settlors interest. These days, revocable trusts are becoming very common as a replacement for a traditional will to minimize administrative costs associated with probate and to provide a centralized system for administration of the settlor’s final affairs after death.

What is a Irrevocable Trust?

An irrevocable trust is a trust, which cannot be altered, amended, or revoked by the settlor or any other party until the terms or purposes of the trust have been legally completed. Irrevocable trusts are commonly used by a settlor who has a large estate where it can be mutually beneficial to avoid estate taxes and other legal and financial liabilities. It is not a recommended option, unless absolutely certain because the settlor will not have a chance to change their decision once it is made.

There are many legitimate reasons for creating a trust but the most common reasons are for privacy and to prevent beneficiaries from spending their inheritance foolishly. Another reason for creating a trust is asset protection where a person can distance themselves from assets with the intention that future creditors will not be able to access assets, even though they may be able to force bankruptcy.

A traditional will also has the potential to create family disputes after your death by any family member who chooses to challenge your last wishes. By using a trust, you can protect your last wishes and specifically disinherit anyone who posts a challenge to your intended beneficiaries.



Bank of America Abandons Monthly Debit Card Fee

By Martin Harris in Banking
November 1st, 2011

Due to the outpour of consumers voicing their opinion over a proposed monthly debit card usage fee, Bank of America has abandoned it’s plan before it started.

No FeesA little over a month ago, Wealth Watching brought you the news - Bank of America to Charge Customers $5 Monthly Debit Card Usage Fee and the response from banking consumers was overwhelming.

Read my lips… NO NEW BANKING FEES !!

Armed with the power of the internet, irate banking customers flocked to Twitter, Facebook, blogs and anywhere their voices could be heard to express disdain over Bank of America’s proposed $5 monthly debit card usage fee.

It seems Bank of America executives listened, but only after other large banks released statements that they would not impose similar fees. JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, Wells Fargo and Regions have all scrapped their plans to charge fees for debit card use.

Bank of America released their official statement on Tuesday that it would be abandoning it’s plan to charge a $5 monthly fee to use their debit cards.

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer at Bank of America, said in a statement. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

The debit card fee was originally supposed to have gone into effect in January 2012.

Maybe these corporate ghouls learned a thing or two (very doubtful) from Netflix, who lost over 800,000 customer due to rate hikes. People just aren’t willing to pay for excessive corporate greed in these troubled economic times and people are tired of being fleeced for services that were initially offered for free.


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