Use Credit Cards for Safer eBay Purchases
The safest way to pay for items on eBay is to use a credit card. In most cases, your credit-card company will stand behind you if you encounter problems using your card online.
Before you start bidding, find out how your credit-card company handles fraud claims. The major credit-card companies — American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa — have different policies regarding how they stand behind your online purchases:
American Express: American Express offers ironclad protection for online shoppers. The company claims that there’s no fine print and no deductible if you need to rely on American Express to help you fight a fraudulent transaction.
Discover: Discover offers 100% fraud protection. The company offers a secure online account number, which generates a single-use card number each time you shop online so your account number is never transferred over the Internet.
MasterCard: The program offered by MasterCard is called Zero Liability and is offered if MasterCard deems your account in good standing, you haven’t broadcast personal account information online frivolously, and you haven’t reported more than two unauthorized events in the past 12 months.
It appears that MasterCard's policy is conditional and that they (not you) are the final judge when it comes to determining fraud, so be careful.
Visa: Visa seems to like the phrase zero liability, as well. Your liability for unauthorized transactions is $0. A new program, called Verified by Visa, lets you set up your own private password that you use with your Visa card anytime you use it online at participating merchants.
Every once in a while, check your statement, visit your credit card company’s Web site, or call the credit-card company’s customer-service department to verify its current fraud-protection policy for online purchases.
Never send your credit-card information to anyone through e-mail. E-mail is the most insecure way to send information. As your e-mail makes its way from your computer to the recipient’s desktop, it makes a whole lot of micro-stops along the way. These stops may take just nanoseconds, but your information is open for reading by outside parties (at least those who have the right expertise) at any stop along the journey.