Choosing Your eBay Password and User ID

Signing up at eBay is a breeze. About the toughest thing you have to do is type in your e-mail address correctly. But when it comes to choosing your password and User ID, the process is so easy that you may be tempted to speed right through it without giving much thought to your choices. Slow down there! Take a deep breath and think about these two identifiers before you click that final Complete Your Registration button.

A quick word about passwords

Picking a good password is not as thought-free (but is twice as important) as it may seem. Whoever has your password can (in effect) "be you" at eBay — listing items, bidding on auctions, purchasing Ferraris and leaving dangerous feedback for others. Such an impostor can wreak havoc on your eBay reputation — and possibly cause you serious financial grief.

As with any online password, you should follow these common-sense rules to protect your privacy:

  • Don't pick anything too obvious, such as your birthday, your first name, or your Social Security number. (Hint: If it's too easy to remember, it's probably too easy to crack.)

  • Make things tough— combine numbers and letters and create nonsensical words.

  • Don't give out your password to anyone — it's like giving away the keys to the door of your house.

  • If you even suspect someone has your password, immediately change it by going to the eBay sign in box

  • Change your password every few months just to be on the safe side.

A not-so-quick word about choosing a User ID

Making up a User ID can be a lot of fun. If you've never liked your real name (or never had a nickname), here's the chance to correct that situation. Consider choosing an ID that tells a little about yourself. Of course, if your interests change, you may regret too narrow a User ID.

You can call yourself just about anything; you can be silly or creative or boring. But remember, this ID is how other eBay users will know you. So here are some common-sense rules:

  • Don't use a name that would embarrass your mother.

  • Don't use a name that's too weird, such as scam-man. If people don't trust you, they won't buy from you.

  • Don't use a name with a negative connotation.

  • eBay doesn't allow spaces in User IDs, so make sure that the ID makes sense when putting two or more words together.

If you're dying to have several short words as your User ID, you can use underscores or hyphens to separate them, as in queen-of-shopping.

You can change your User ID (once every 30 days) if you want to, but doing so might not be a good idea. People come to know you by your User ID. If you change your ID, your past does play tagalong and attaches itself to the new ID. But if you change your User ID too many times, people may think you're trying to hide something or you're in the Witness Protection Program.

Nevertheless, to change your User ID, click the My eBay link at the top of most eBay pages. From your My eBay login page, click the Preferences/Set-up tab and scroll to the Change My User ID link, fill out the boxes, and click the Change User ID button. You now have a new eBay identity.

eBay also has some User ID rules to live by:

  • No offensive names (like &*#@guy).

  • No names with eBay in them. (It makes you look like you work for eBay, and eBay takes a dim view of that.)

  • No names with & (even if you do have both looks&brains).

  • No names with @ (like @Aboy).

  • No symbols such as the greater than or less than symbols (> <) or consecutive underscores ___.

  • No IDs that begin with an e, followed by numbers, an underscore, a dash, a period, or a dot.

  • No names of one letter (like Q).

When you pick your User ID, make sure that it isn't a good clue for your password. If you use Natasha as your User ID, don't pick Boris as your password. Even Bullwinkle could figure that one out.

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