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eBay, Amazon offer safety tips to customers

The auction leader and the e-tail heavyweight are tipping customers on ways to ship items in an effort to prevent anthrax worries.

Anthrax worries have prompted eBay and Amazon.com to suggest ways their customers can mail goods to one another.

With eBay alone doing about $26 million in transactions every day, there are innumerable packages passing through the hands of buyers and sellers. Amazon sent an e-mail with practical suggestions on mailing goods to customers in its Marketplace, zShops and auction sections, while eBay sent e-mail to its Half.com customers.

Customers should wipe away dust or debris from inside and outside the packages they are sending "to help prevent inquiries, misunderstandings or delays," the Amazon e-mail read. Both Amazon and eBay recommend that senders include a return address, note on the package that it is from a seller, and include a written invoice of the transaction.

Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said the e-tailer also recommends that senders not use desiccant powder--a moisture absorber often used to prevents magazines from sticking together--as it might be mistaken for anthrax.

"This makes good sense," Smith said. "People are concerned with any package that they receive right now. These are just common sense things to do when they send any package."

Over the past month, there have been 17 confirmed anthrax cases in the United States and four people have died, according to Reuters.

The U.S. Postal Service has sent notices out on the proper way to handle mail.

"We're just adding some reinforcement to that," eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said.