Need insight into buying smart on eBay during holiday shopping season? Here are suggestions from SquareTrade, the leader in helping buyers shop online smarter, safer and easier. SquareTrade, (, has been delivering merchant verification and buyer protections on eBay for over 5 years.

— Know what you’re getting: Read the auction item description carefully. Understand item details (is it new, used, refurbished), shipping details (cost, method, speed), return policies if any.

— Research the seller: Read a seller’s eBay feedback, especially comments written by buyers, and consider emailing the seller a question to check responsiveness.

— Look for sellers verified by a third party, such as SquareTrade. Verified sellers display the SquareTrade Seal on their auction listings.

— Prevent “buyer’s remorse”: Avoid bidding more than you want to pay. If you’re afraid of getting into a bidding war, look for “buy it now” listings, where you can buy the item at a fixed price set by the seller.

— Pay safely: Use your credit card or eBay’s payment tool, PayPal (where you can “fund” the PayPal payment using your credit card). In addition to PayPal Protections, in most cases credit cards allow you to reverse charges on fraudulent transactions. NEVER use Western Union to pay someone you don’t know!

— Protect your purchase: SquareTrade Seal Members offer 100% fraud protection and a low-price guarantee on new items, if you register before you bid on most items (confirm availability at

— Order Early: Before you bid, confirm with the seller that the shipping method used will deliver your item in time for the holidays. Add a week of “cushion” to ensure you aren’t disappointed.

— Be Patient: If you have questions or problems, give the seller the chance to respond before filing negative eBay feedback.

— Beware of fraud: If an offer is “too good to be true,” it probably is. Beware of email offers to buy “outside of eBay” or requesting you to “update personal information.” These are often fraud scams. Protect yourself by downloading SquareTrade SideBar ( ) to help you spot fraudulent and phishing websites.

— Have fun: eBay is a fantastic place to find great deals on gifts! There’s something for everyone, from blenders to magazine subscriptions, MP3 players to lawn mowers. You might even find your next car!