COMMENTS: Bid and Ask

ABC filed a couple of features illustrating the pros and cons of online finance. The pros were presented by John Berman (subscription required) in the form of free publicity for eBay, the Internet auction house. The flacks at eBay have calculated that a small town in New Jersey is the location with the highest per capita volume on its Website. So Berman visited bid-crazy Lumberton where fully half of the 12,000 population are members and the local postmaster complains that her parking lot "is full all day long and it is a constant line" of sellers shipping items to winning buyers.

The cons came from Brian Ross Investigates. He warned that computers in public spaces--"airports and hotel business centers"--can be infected with spyware that tracks keystroke patterns. Hackers compile account numbers and passwords to online stock brokerages and sell the data from Websites based in Russia. For example, for $350, Ross could gain control of six trading accounts worth $60,000 and sell off their assets. If such an account happens to be a federal 401(k), fund management refuses to reimburse government workers whose retirement savings are wiped out "because it does not have to legally."


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