SAN FRANCISCO – eBay Inc. made some dramatic changes to its buyer protections on Wednesday that some say escalates the battle with Google Inc. and the search giant’s Checkout online-payment feature.

The Net auctioneer announced that it will double, to $2,000, the amount it refunds to buyers jilted by sellers, whether they’ve receiving damaged goods or if orders never show up.

But the protections apply only if buyers pay using eBay’s PayPal payment system. At the same time, the company said that it’s eliminating some of the protections it once had for non-PayPal sales.

“PayPal is the safest way to pay on eBay,” eBay Senior Vice President Rob Chestnut said in a statement.

Shares of eBay were down more than 1 percent at $29.44 Wednesday; Google was up more than 1 percent to $491.29.

With the changes, eBay is trying to make it more attractive to adopt PayPal, steering business away from Google’s Checkout feature, writes Ina Steiner, editor of the well-read Web site.

What’s more, eBay already has banned the use of Checkout for sales off its site, saying that the relatively new feature has not been tested by time yet.

A Google spokesman didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

After a slow start, Checkout is posing more of a challenge to PayPal as it begins to gain traction among sellers and buyers. However, the feature remains more of a loss leader because Google is promoting it heavily, such as making it free to use for all of 2007.

eBay’s moves come as the company is facing a growing, albeit modest, amount of fraud as measured by the amount PayPal reimburses for fraudulent sales.

The changes announced Wednesday follow a crackdown in late 2006 on eBay sales in China and other Asian nations, where fraud had spiked.

(c) 2007, Inc.

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AP-NY-01-10-07 1830EST