Why eBay Restricts Seller Accounts

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Sellers on eBay are often shocked the first time they receive a restriction notice. eBay will act to protect buyers when there is a high potential for fraud related to the auctions, items, or seller account in question. This can lead to frustration for sellers, but there are a few common situations which are red flags and may lead to increased scrutiny from eBay.

eBay Limits Seller Fraud Through Restrictions

If a seller is selling high-demand designer goods, that tends to attract the attention of any trademark holders, competing sellers, and eBay.

When a new product like an iPad is released, eBay may work to reduce the potential for fraud and impose restrictions to ensure that no single fraudster can steal from many buyers. And any product or category that involves unlicensed name-brand goods or in which there is a high incidence of counterfeiting is likely to be restriction-heavy.

But sometimes restrictions are due to what eBay considers suspicious activity by a particular seller, such a sudden change in selling practices. If sales increase in a high-risk category, for instance, the chances of being hit with a selling restriction increase. And of course, if an account has built up a history of violations, expect eBay to eventually take action. 

What Sellers Can Do if Their Account Has Been Restricted

If a seller receives a restriction, the best thing to do is wait it out. The thing not to do is to register a new account and begin selling again. The chances are high they will get caught, and that will only raise suspicions further.

If the stated time period of the restriction has passed and a seller is still in limbo, they can reach out to eBay to make sure all is well. They should not, however, contact eBay incessantly, send angry messages, threaten legal action, or otherwise express frustration. In that case, a seller may end up with their activity scrutinized with a microscope, making a permanent ban more likely.

How to Avoid Future Restrictions

Some online advice suggests getting around eBay's restrictions using false information, new identities, or other such tricks. That's ill-advised. Sellers who break the rules strain their relationship with eBay and can end up facing a looming constant threat of a permanent ban. Restrictions are a warning sign that the way a seller is doing business on eBay is unsustainable. Here is how you can avoid future restrictions:

  • Move Away From High-Risk/High-Fraud Items: Choose a different category of items and select one that is less fraud-heavy. Try partnering with rights holders. Sellers who are selling legally licensed, legally imported or stocked retail goods and believe they were unfairly targeted or accused, can work with the rights holder to have eBay mark them as a legitimate seller.
  • Shift Your Emphasis and/or Sell One at a Time: Sales of legitimate items that repeatedly earn restrictions may be possible if it is done at a slower pace, usually only one listing at any time and only one or several listings per month.