Internet ID Fraud Complaints
More Than Triple

Customers of eBay, Best Buy and EarthLink are among
recent targets of phisher scams

Putting personal information online has hazards.
Complaints of Internet-related identity theft more than tripled to 2,352 last year from the year before, says the Federal Trade Commission . While that's a fraction of the 168,000 nationwide reports of ID theft, the growth is alarming as more consumers shop online.

"Online fraud is becoming as big an issue for eBay and AOL as security is for Microsoft," says Jay Foley of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

At least a dozen eBay customers say they were ripped off this month by identity thieves posing as legitimate sellers.
Steve Lundin, 44, thought he made a good deal when he purchased a digital camera for $1,000 last week. The seller had nearly 200 positive comments on eBay's merchant ratings system, and Lundin had bought dozens of items on eBay since 1999.

But the person to whom Lundin sent money overseas had stolen the ID of the real seller, a retiree in Missouri who has sold items on eBay for years. Lundin, a Chicago marketing executive, is considering legal action against eBay.
Susie Savard, 25, a manager for (Nasdaq: AMZN) in Lexington, Ky., was burned by the same scheme last week. She also sent a $1,000 cash order to a bogus seller in London, but never received a camera. "It's creepy; you're not sure who you're dealing with," she says.

In e-mail to customers, eBay said some listings this month were victims of an "account takeover," in which the password was guessed or discovered. The listings were closed. EBay says the theft did not spring from a system flaw.
EBay also says Lundin and Savard bypassed the formal bidding process and cut deals on their own -- a violation of eBay policy that absolves the company of responsibility. EBay says it is helping both file paperwork with law-enforcement officials. "I admit I erred," Lundin says. "But eBay is built on trust."