Is eBay Safe To Use With a Debit Card? eBay’s Security Pros and Cons

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Nov 13, 2023
 • 
10
 Min Read

Founded in 1995, eBay® is one of the oldest and most successful online marketplaces. Today, it has over 130 million active buyers globally and offers a vast collection of new and used items, sold via auction or using a fixed price format.

Despite eBay being a household name, users may be wary of giving away their card or bank information due to the prevalence and devastating effects of data breaches and other cyber threats that are common with online retailers. While eBay takes security measures to prevent such occurrences, there’s plenty you can and should do to increase the safety of your sensitive data.

In this guide, you can learn more about eBay and get answers to questions such as:

  • Is eBay safe to use with a debit card?
  • What security risks should you be aware of as an eBay user?
  • What are concrete steps you can take to protect your financial data while shopping on eBay?

Is It Safe To Use a Debit Card on eBay?

A 3D render of a computer screen displaying the eBay logo, with the old eBay logo in the background
Source: 27707

The long history and the sheer number of users can attest to eBay’s security. The company employs various measures to prevent unauthorized access and disclosure of data[1], including:

  • Encryption
  • Network security services (NSS)
  • Restriction of physical access to data centers
  • Automated access control for data and systems


eBay never reveals your card information to sellers[1]. Another indication of eBay’s commitment to safety is its buyer and seller protection programs. Buyers may request a refund in case of damaged, undelivered, or ill-advertised goods[2], whereas sellers get protection in case of abusive buyer behavior or events outside their control, such as carrier or weather delays[3].

While eBay is generally safe, you should know that no online merchant can guarantee the complete safety of your data. Cybercriminals have various tactics for obtaining sensitive information from users, so you should become familiar with them and do everything you can to protect yourself.

Potential Risks eBay Users Should Be Aware Of

Common threats you should be aware of when shopping on e-commerce platforms such as eBay include:

  1. Data breaches
  2. Account takeover
  3. Phishing
  4. Fraudulent sellers or buyers

Data Breaches

While eBay hasn’t had any officially confirmed data breaches recently, the possibility is always present with any online merchant since hackers are constantly developing their tactics for stealing users’ data. Be it through a data leak or by exploiting security vulnerabilities, cybercriminals could potentially access sensitive user information stored on eBay’s servers, including debit card numbers.

Account Takeover

Another way hackers can acquire card information is through account takeover. They may use methods such as dictionary or brute force attacks, credential stuffing, and keylogging to find out your password and enter your account. If successful, they can access more sensitive data and sell it online or use it to impersonate you.

A photo of a laptop screen displaying eBay’s homepage
Source: Oberon Copeland @veryinformed.com

Phishing

Phishing occurs when the perpetrator contacts you by text, email, or phone pretending to be a legitimate entity, such as eBay. They typically require you to take immediate action, such as providing specific information or downloading an attachment infected with malware. 

In the context of eBay, the perpetrator may:

  • Tell you that your card was denied and that they need you to resend the details
  • Promote a once-in-a-lifetime deal and ask for your data to secure it
  • Direct you to a fake eBay website containing malicious code that can fetch your data

Fraudulent Sellers or Buyers

In some cases, other users on eBay may attempt to scam you. For instance, fraudulent sellers may request that you pay them outside of eBay’s platform or ask for additional shipping fees. In such cases, you may end up losing the payment and the product, but it might also result in your card information getting stolen.

Is It Safer To Pay on eBay With a Credit Card or a Debit Card?

As consumer debit and credit cards are regulated by different laws, they have slightly different fraud protection terms. Learn about them in the table below:


Type of Card Debit Card Credit Card
Law that protects it The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)
Time restrictions for disputing the charge and the maximum liabilities
  • 2 days—maximum $50 liability

  • 60 days—maximum $500 liability

60 days—maximum $50 liability

Keep in mind that many credit and debit card issuers have zero-liability policies, not requiring their customers to be responsible for any unauthorized charges in case of payment card loss or theft. 

The credit card might appear as a safer option because of the slightly more advantageous fraud protection terms. However, while the law may protect your funds in case your card numbers become compromised, it can’t spare you from the time-consuming and stressful process of disputing fraudulent charges. No matter if the card in question is credit or debit, you still have to:

  1. Go back and forth with the card issuer
  2. Cancel the compromised card and request a replacement
  3. Update all your security settings and billing information with specific merchants


Even then, your safety is not guaranteed, as the hacker may have managed to obtain other data they can misuse, such as your login credentials, home address, and other personal information. It’s best to adopt a proactive approach and take the necessary security precautions before any issues occur.

A photo of a person holding a Mastercard® payment card with a laptop in the background
Source: Paul Felberbauer

Steps You Can Take To Enhance the Safety of Your Data on eBay

Below, you can learn about the measures you can employ to protect your payment information on eBay.

Recognizing Phishing and Other Scams

Phishing attempts are sometimes well-crafted and convincing, so you must pay attention to the smallest details to see the message’s true nature. Before taking any action, you should thoroughly inspect the sender’s email address or the website URL to confirm it is legitimate. Here are some of eBay’s pointers for spotting phishing attempts—the company will:

  • Never ask for your password or financial details via email or phone
  • Always send both an in-app message and an email when it comes to important matters
  • Never send attachments or use a threatening or urgent tone
  • Always greet you by the first and last name you provided when signing up for your account

If a seller or buyer makes any unusual requests, such as asking you to complete a payment using an external service, it’s best to avoid doing business with them.

Protecting Your Account and Card Information

To keep your eBay account and sensitive information safe, consider doing the following:

  1. Set strong passwords—You should create a unique and hard-to-guess password for your eBay account and never reuse it on other websites. It’s also recommended that you update it every few months or so. eBay also allows you to sign in using a PIN, pattern, or biometric authentication instead of your password, so you can take advantage of those options for additional safety.
  2. Enable two-step verification—If you turn on two-step verification, eBay will ask you to confirm your identity upon login via a push notification or a code sent to your phone number. This additional step can prevent unauthorized access even if the hacker gets hold of your login credentials.
  3. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks—Public and open Wi-Fi networks are much less protected than private ones, putting your data at risk of being intercepted by hackers.
  4. Don’t save card information—Although it does make checkouts faster, saving your debit card information in your account increases the chances of having it stolen if a data breach occurs.
  5. Use virtual cards—By using virtual cards, you can shop online without revealing your real card information, which protects it from potential hackers. Many banks and independent providers offer virtual cards, such as American Express®, Capital One®, and Citi®, but few can match the level of security and control that Privacy provides.

Privacy Virtual Cards—The Key To Safer Shopping

Don’t risk having your debit card or bank account compromised—link it with Privacy Virtual Cards and add an integral layer of security to your transactions. Issued by Visa® and Mastercard®, Privacy Cards can be used at most merchants and websites that accept these payment methods, such as AliExpress, Shein, and subscription services like Spotify and HBO Max.

Privacy also has a browser extension that autofills virtual card details at checkout, saving you from having to get your wallet and enter card numbers manually and allowing you to check out quickly. The extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. You can also leverage the Safari for iOS extension, which brings the fast checkout experience to your iPhone and iPad.

A photo of a person using a tablet to shop while holding a cup of coffee
Source: justynafaliszek

Regain Control Over Your Spending With Privacy

With Privacy, you can create Merchant-Locked or Single-Use Cards. The Merchant-Locked Card can be used repeatedly at only one merchant, so it is ideal for subscriptions and stores you frequently shop at. In case hackers get hold of this card number, they won’t be able to use it elsewhere. The Single-Use Card is valid for only one transaction, making it suitable for testing unfamiliar websites. Hackers who would obtain this card number wouldn’t be able to use it at all since it closes minutes after the first transaction is completed.

Privacy also gives you access to the following features:


Feature Why It Matters
Spending limits When you set spending limits on your Privacy Card, all exceeding charges will be declined. Limits help prevent merchants from overcharging you and help you stick to your budget.
Card pausing/closing You can pause, unpause, and close your virtual cards without affecting your bank account or debit card. Privacy will decline all transactions on paused or closed cards, preventing unwanted charges from merchants, such as subscription services you want to cancel.
Virtual cards on the go The Privacy mobile app for iOS and Android lets you generate and manage virtual cards wherever you are. You can also opt to receive a notification and an email whenever your cards are being used or declined.

How To Get Privacy Virtual Cards

To start using Privacy Virtual Cards and shop online safely, follow these steps:

  1. Create an account
  2. Enter the information necessary for verifying your identity
  3. Connect a funding source (debit card or bank account)
  4. Request a Privacy Virtual Card


Privacy offers three pricing plans, including a base plan that's free for domestic purchases and includes 12 free virtual cards a month, access to the app and browser extension, and features such as card pausing and closing and setting spending limits.

Being a BBB®-accredited business, Privacy is committed to providing exceptional customer service. It also meets the Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements, employing the same stringent security protocols as any reliable bank.

References

[1] eBay. https://pages.ebay.com/payment/2.0/index.html, sourced October 2023
[2]eBay. https://www.ebay.com/help/policies/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy?id=4210, sourced October 2023
[3] eBay. https://www.ebay.com/sellercenter/selling/seller-protections, sourced October 2023
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