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What Does eBay Do with Information about You, Anyway?

Although eBay knows a good chunk of information about you, it puts the information to good use. The fact that it knows so much about you actually helps you in the long run.

Here's what eBay uses personal information for:

  • Upgrading eBay: Like most e-commerce companies, eBay tracks members’ use and habits to improve the website. For instance, if a particular item generates a lot of activity, eBay may add a category or a subcategory.

  • Clearing the way for transactions: If eBay didn't collect personal information such as your e-mail address, your snail-mail address, and your phone number, you couldn't complete the transaction you started after an auction was over.

  • Billing: You think it's important to keep track of your merchandise and money, don't you? So does eBay. It uses your personal information to keep an eye on your account and your paying habits — and on everybody else's. (Call it a gentle encouragement of honest trading habits.)

  • Policing the site: Never forget that eBay tries to be tough on cybercrime; if you break the rules or regulations, eBay will hunt you down and boot you out. Personal information is used to find eBay delinquents, and eBay makes it clear that it cooperates with law enforcement and with third parties whose merchandise you may be selling illegally.

Periodically, eBay runs surveys asking specific questions about your use of the site. It uses your answers to upgrade eBay. In addition, eBay asks whether it can forward your information to a marketing firm. eBay says that it does not forward any personally identifiable information, which means that any info you provide is given to third parties as raw data.

However, if you're nervous about privacy, make it clear that you don't want your comments to leave eBay should you decide to participate in eBay surveys. If you don't participate in the surveys, you won't have any hand in creating new eBay features, though, so you can't complain if you don't like how the site looks and works.

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