Account Theft at eBay - Consequences for the Seller

Normally, everybody supposes that only the buyer might have a problem when selling on the Internet - especially with the risk of paying upfront and not getting the purchased item afterwards. This article explores the legalities for the vendor on eBay or any other portal for selling or trading items.


Imagine the situation that you have just been informed of a successful sale on eBay, only to find out after two days that somebody misused the purchaser's personal data. The alleged buyer, not knowing of the auction, refuses to pay the sale's price. Can that be?

Whenever your contractual partner enables the misuse of his personal details, like allowing acquaintances to order with his identity, this - without any question - happens at the full risk of the purchaser. But what if the identity was stolen by phishing or by other means? In these cases, the buyer didn't participate to close a contract. The act of the unknown third person cannot be attributed to the alleged customer because this person didn't give a reason for such. The legal consequence is that no sales contract has been closed and you cannot demand payment from the alleged customer.

This is an unpleasant situation - especially since you have initiated costs. At least eBay will refund you the fees for such a "frustrated sale". Is there still any chance to make this contract binding? This will only be the case if can prove to the persuasion of the judge that the alleged person really did initiate the sale. Seldom, will you be able to do this.

Do you want to use the argument, that the alleged customer could have protected himself against phishing? No chance. Case law shows that due to the not existing security in the Internet, nobody may be certain that a person is really that person he/she claims to be. As an example, Oberlandesgericht (= Higher Regional Court) Cologne decided on January 13, 2006 (re 19 U 120/05) that a seller has to prove the identity of the customer upon closing the contract to successfully sue this person for payment in court.



Published on the old CMS: 2007/6/14
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 184 reads


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