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1/18/2007
01:46 PM
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EBay Stresses Security

The online auction company's plans include eliminating one- or three-day auctions for certain categories.

The chief executive of eBay's North American operations has put improved buyer and seller security at the top of the online auction site's priority list for 2007.

"It's no secret that online criminals who target sites like eBay and PayPal have grown in number and sophistication over time," said Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, in a message on the eBay Web site. "Where we've historically put an emphasis on transparency and free choice, today the security threats are more complex, and we're more actively protecting our buyers from fraud."

Cobb touted already-in-place programs, including 2006's "Safeguarding Member IDs," which conceals member's identities in certain high-value auctions. The SMI initiative, which started with the site's automobile auctions, was expanded last week to the main North American, Canadian, British, and Australian editions of eBay. It's designed to stymie con artists and spammers from shilling phony "second chance" sales to losing bidders. In the U.S., SMI is enabled on all listings that start or reach a bid price of $200.

"Aside from these visible changes, we've also been busy behind the scenes," Cobb said. Among those security enhancements: anti-counterfeiting measures that range from additional seller verification to eliminating one- or three-day auctions on item categories likely to include counterfeits.

EBay also has started requiring all newly registered sellers to accept either PayPal, eBay's own e-payment service, or a credit card, for payment. "We know that PayPal is the safest way to pay on eBay, and we want to make sure our buyers have this option with new sellers," said Cobb.

Cobb's emphasis on security came after he and other senior executives hosted the site's top sellers at closed-door meetings at eBay's California headquarters.

"So far," Cobb said, "these efforts appear to be paying off with minimal disruption to our legitimate sellers."

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