eBay Announces Plan to Prevent Fraud by Hiding Bidder ID's.

Despite hurculean efforts, fraud continues to be a major problem on eBay. eBay scams still take place every day and this hurts eBay sellers by slowing down growth of the platform.

Rob Chesnut, The Senior VP of Trust and Safety for eBay, made an important announcement this week that is going to have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on buyers and sellers. eBay announced plans to hide bidder IDs on eBay Motors in an effort to prevent fraud. They will roll out the system on eBay Motors only for now, but plan to roll it out on all of eBay in early 2007.

The program is designed to help prevent phony second-chance offers, email phishing (spoof emails) and other scams that take place by having bidder information available to everyone. This is already becoming a very controversia subject on the eBay boards. The announcement details are a bit too long and complex to list here, so I have included just the basics, but you should read the complete announcement to fully understand the implications for sellers.

"The Safeguarding Member IDs project is a new approach to auction-style listings that offers more privacy for our members through changing how bidding information is displayed. Following intensive development and review, as well as Community input, we believe the Safeguarding Member IDs project provides the Community with enough information about the bidders involved in an auction-style listing for them to feel confident in placing a bid – without revealing actual User IDs. We’re implementing this new system on listings with a high bid of $200 or greater, which is where we believe it can have the greatest positive impact. The bid information for listings where the bid is lower than $200 will display as it does today.

Here’s what will change:

On the bid history page for each listing we’ll replace member User IDs with aliases (such as Bidder 1, Bidder 2 and Bidder 3) in the order of their bids placed. For each bidder involved in a listing, we’ll display the number of bids in unique categories that they’ve placed, a range that their feedback score falls within (i.e. 10-49, for instance), their percentage of positive feedback, their length of time as an eBay member, and the number of bids they’ve placed on the item. At the end of a listing, the winning bidder’s User ID will be displayed on the item page. Please note: Sellers will still be able to access bidder information on their listings through the Bid History page and the My eBay selling table.

In My eBay, members will no longer have access to the high-bidder column from bid and watch tables.

On the item page, you’ll only be able to see the high-bidder ID if you are the signed-in seller of the item or the signed-in high bidder.
Through the Advanced Search by Bidder link, we’ll only show completed listings within the last 30 days.

Future enhancements are being designed that will provide even more transaction data about the bidders and seller involved in a transaction. We’ll continue to update the community on these changes as these plans become finalized."

Thankfully the new system will not roll out on all of eBay until after the busy holiday season.  I strongly suggest you take the time to understand the full announcement in context.  You can read Rob Chesnut’s full statement here.

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