Introducing Rich LaMagna - eBay Online Safety Advisor

Richard Brewer-Hay

I wanted to take a moment on Ink to introduce you to another member of the eBay team. Rich LaMagna is eBay’s Online Safety Advisor and I managed to spend a few minutes with him earlier this week to talk about what he hopes to accomplish here.

Rich LaMagna

Rich has an interesting role for the company in that he is essentially for “Trust & Safety” what Constance White is for fashion; Karen Bard is for pop culture; Cat Schwartz is for tech/gadgets; and what Shawn Henderson is for home design (to read more from our Style Squad team, be sure to check out

I’ll definitely ask Rich back onto Ink for more detailed conversations (let’s hope we can encourage more folks here to do the same), particularly going into the holiday shopping season, but for now I wanted to take the time to introduce you to him and provide a little background.

1. Rich, thanks for taking the time here on Ink. Before we get into some of your goals and responsibilities could you please tell folks a little bit about your background? What makes you the ideal person to be eBay’s official online safety advisor?
Hello Richard, I am delighted to be here and very excited about my new role. My background of 27 years in federal law enforcement (Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI) coupled with my previous positions at Microsoft as a Director of Worldwide Anti-piracy Investigations and Director of Law Enforcement Training and Outreach (the Internet Safety Team), have given me the right combination of experience and insights to understand the challenges that eBay faces on a daily basis. In addition, as spokesperson for anti-piracy and Internet Safety at Microsoft, I played a key role in educating the general public about counterfeiting, fraud and online safety.

On a personal level, I have lived in and traveled to many countries where I’ve enjoyed shopping in all kinds of situations and learned some good lessons about how to stay safe –many of those lessons apply to online buying and selling. All of this experience means that the eBay Community and consumers in general should know that when I provide tips or suggestions for staying safe online, they can trust it 100%.

2. How do you plan on promoting consumer safety online?
I’m very eager to spread the word about some important changes that eBay has adopted in order to improve consumer safety, including the end of paper and non-electronic payments and the enhanced PayPal Buyer Protection Program. In addition, we advocate that shoppers use their common sense when shopping online, just as they would when shopping in a mall or department store. Most of us, consciously or not, run through a mental checklist before making a purchase: Am I comfortable shopping in this store? Is this item the correct size, price and color? What payment method should I use? What are the return policies, etc.? We should apply these same criteria to online shopping, using our common sense, to ensure a safer shopping experience. Just as you wouldn’t shop in an unsafe part of town from an unknown merchant selling goods of unclear origin, you should exercise the same caution online.

I’m confident that if shoppers use common sense before making a purchase plus take advantage of the PayPal Buyer Protection Program, under which qualified purchases are covered 100% against fraud, they will be taking the steps necessary to ensure a safer online buying experience.

3. What are the near-term challenges you face in your role at eBay?
As you and the eBay buyers and sellers know, Richard, there have been quite a few changes on in the past few months; I firmly believe they will help to provide buyers with a better and safer experience as well as help sellers grow their businesses. I know everyone is making an effort to adapt to these changes, which come with a little discomfort, and over the coming months I will be specifically talking more about these features and all the great things that eBay is doing to make the online experience safer. Although I am fairly new to buying and selling on eBay, I am beginning to appreciate the challenges that both sellers and buyers sometimes face and I have already experienced a few things that have convinced me that eBay is making the right changes.

I want to be able to maintain a level of objectivity and let both eBay and the eBay Community benefit from my years of experience in the online security industry. Since I am involved with other industries, I can help to set the wider context by commenting on how eBay is tackling industry-wide online security issues in comparison to their industry counterparts. I plan to use my position to help educate the media and give guidance to consumers about what simple things they can do to make themselves safer online.

4. What is your long term goal for eBay in the area of online safety?
Let me be bold here and say that my ultimate goal is to help make eBay the absolute safest and best e-commerce site in the world! eBay is a great company and what attracted me to it was its foundation on an ideal which is still the guiding principle: trust, the idea that most people are basically honest and trustworthy, even when transacting with one another online. eBay takes its responsibility very seriously and there is a lot of great work being done at eBay to provide buyers and sellers with a safe, fair, buying and selling experience—as you know, the vast majority of eBay transactions are secure and very successful.

My long-term goal is to help get the word out on the good behind-the-scenes work the eBay Trust & Safety Team is doing and to clearly articulate how eBay is addressing issues as they arise—this should help give buyers and sellers a greater level of comfort and confidence in the entire system built on trust. I also want to promote the idea of collaboration and shared responsibility because if we all work together to adopt the new changes and follow a few common-sense guidelines, the eBay experience can become even more fun, efficient and above all, safe!

5. Do you have any tips or advice for buyers/sellers heading into the shopping season this year?
Yes, shopping online will be a great way to shop this holiday season. I personally prefer it – I’d rather not spend my time sitting in traffic and then waiting in long lines at the stores. Especially with gas prices so high and often nasty winter weather conditions, the easiest and most efficient way to do your holiday shopping is on eBay. As I mentioned, I’ve shopped all over the world for unique and interesting items and thanks to eBay, with a few clicks of the mouse many of those same items are now available with an even greater selection at discounted prices from trusted sellers. You can have them delivered right to your door within a few short days—how convenient is that! Buyers and sellers should check out the PayPal Buyer Protection Program and remember these tips for staying safe when shopping online:

Get to know who you are transacting with. Communicate with them and research their reputation by checking their feedback rating.
Pay safely. Pay with a fast, easy and secure payment method such as PayPal. Do not pay with paper payment methods such as checks or money orders, cash or instant cash transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram as they are proven to be unsafe for online transactions. With PayPal’s enhanced Buyer Protection Program, all qualified purchases are covered 100%.
Never be tempted to trade outside the safe confines of eBay. You are unprotected in such transactions and more susceptible to fraud.
Never click on a link or reply to e-mails that ask for personal information. eBay and PayPal will never ask you for your account or credit card details, username or password in any communications.
Download toolbars such as Internet Explorer 7.0 or Firefox. These help to identify when you’re on spoof sites and protect you against clicking on fake eBay and PayPal websites.

6. Would you be willing to come back and be a recurring guest on Ink so we can provide updates to readers?
Yes, I would be delighted to appear as a recurring guest to share my expertise and provide more information on eBay Trust & Safety issues for the Community. Thank you for this opportunity!