Etsy is perhaps the largest online marketplace for unique and creative goods. The consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform allows independent crafters, makers, and collectors to open virtual storefronts and showcase their extraordinary items, such as vintage items, handmade goods, art, and craft supplies.
Unfortunately, etsy scams abound on the platform.
Etsy scams may involve counterfeit items, identity theft, or the outright theft of funds. One recurring theme is the creation of fake stores or listings, mirroring legitimate products but at unrealistically low prices.
1) Fake Or Counterfeit Products
Promoting fake, counterfeit, or misrepresented products within their Etsy stores is a deceitful practice that’s widespread, with reported cases of sellers tricking buyers into purchasing items that aren’t what they seem.
Consider a recent incident highlighted on the Etsy Scams Twitter account, where a store managed to sell nearly 40,000 pieces of jewelry by falsely labeling them as “self-made” or vintage.
Shockingly, these items were not unique creations but rather mass-produced products readily available on AliExpress at significantly lower prices.
To shield yourself from falling victim to such scams, conduct a reverse image search of the product photos using tools like TinEye. Doing so will help you verify if the images appear elsewhere on the internet, exposing potential deceit.
On top of that, be careful about trusting the shop’s location information displayed in their store. Scammers often manipulate this detail, claiming to be based in Europe or America while employing dropshipping tactics to dispatch items directly from countries like China or other overseas locations.
2) Fake Shops
Some scammers aren’t just interested in your money; they aim to steal your identity too. They establish fake Etsy shops solely to pilfer your personal and payment details, with no intention of ever delivering the promised items.
Always keep an eye out for telltale signs of a fake store, such as poorly written descriptions, fake product listings, or a lack of store history.
A great example of this scam is a distressing case where an Etsy shopper thought they were purchasing camera accessories. Two days later, there was no shipping information, and the Etsy store had mysteriously vanished.
Although the buyer managed to halt the payment through their bank, the damage was done — the fraudulent store had successfully acquired the buyer’s personal information.
3) Wrong Address
Etsy has mechanisms to shield sellers from false claims of non-receipt by buyers. Unfortunately, some scammers manipulate this by purposefully sending items to the wrong address, often one under their control. So how does this scam work?
Scammers intentionally provide an incorrect address on a shipment, usually an address they can monitor. When you attempt to seek a refund or file a claim with Etsy, they use the incorrect shipping details to assert that the item was indeed delivered.
This deceitful tactic creates a challenge when trying to prove the legitimacy of your claim.
On top of misdirecting shipments, scammers may further exploit the situation by utilizing stolen or fake USPS tracking numbers thus allowing them to present falsified evidence of delivery, putting your hard-earned money at risk.
4) Same Product Listings
With this scam, fraudsters have multiple shops that list the same product across various platforms. These fraudsters set up numerous stores, both on Etsy and other online platforms, and list identical products with differing price tags.
For instance, an item may be listed for $60 in one store, $80 in another, and $150 in yet another. The goal? To gauge how much they can profit from unsuspecting buyers.
If you attempt to purchase the product at a lower price, they may claim it’s out of stock or devise alternative scams to exploit your trust.
To check for duplicate listings, always perform a Google search using a few sentences from the product description. Scammers copy and paste their listings across multiple sites. If the same listing appears elsewhere, that should be a red flag.
5) Payment Off Etsy
Etsy provides protection for purchases through both Etsy’s Buyer Protection and your credit card’s fraud protection.
Scammers may falsely claim issues with Etsy’s payment system or entice you with a supposed “special discount” if you opt to pay them using unconventional methods such as gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or payment apps like PayPal or Venmo.
Transactions conducted through these alternative payment methods are exceedingly difficult to refund or trace once the funds are sent. What’s more, if you make a payment for an item outside of Etsy’s official website, you forfeit the ability to file a dispute or obtain a refund through Etsy’s platform.
How To Identify Etsy Scams
You can protect yourself against etsy scams by understanding the subtle cues and red flags of potential scams. Here are key signs that differentiate a genuine Etsy offering and a potential scam:
- Unrealistically low prices – Scammers often lure buyers with excessively discounted prices to entice quick sales. If the price seems too good to be true for the item’s perceived value, proceed with caution.
- Lack of detailed seller information – Legitimate sellers typically provide comprehensive information about themselves, their shop policies, and contact details. If a seller’s profile lacks transparency or seems incomplete, it might raise suspicions.
- Inconsistencies in product descriptions – Pay close attention to product descriptions. Scammers may use vague language or provide inconsistent details about the item, making it challenging to understand precisely what you’re purchasing.
- Pressure tactics and urgency – Be wary of sellers using high-pressure tactics, such as creating a false sense of urgency or pressuring you to make a quick purchase. Legitimate sellers usually allow buyers time to consider their options.
- Limited or unsecured payment options – Scammers might push for unconventional payment methods or transactions outside of Etsy’s platform, compromising security. Stick to Etsy’s secure payment options to protect your financial information.
- No or suspicious reviews – Lack of reviews or a history of negative feedback can indicate potential issues. Also, be cautious if reviews seem overly similar or appear to be manipulated.
- Suspicious communication – If a seller asks for personal information beyond what’s necessary for the transaction or directs you to external links, proceed cautiously. Stick to communicating within Etsy’s messaging system.
- Unexpected changes in listing details – Be wary if a listing’s details significantly change after initial contact or if a seller alters essential information abruptly.
How to Protect Yourself Against Etsy Scams
Use these tips to protect yourself against Etsy scams:
- Thoroughly research sellers and listing – Before making a purchase, thoroughly examine seller profiles. Genuine sellers often have detailed profiles with comprehensive information, policies, and a history of positive reviews.
- Review customer feedback – Scrutinize customer feedback and reviews to gauge the seller’s credibility. Look for consistent positive feedback and genuine experiences shared by previous buyers.
- Always use secure payment methods – Stick to Etsy’s Payment System: Conduct transactions exclusively through Etsy’s secure payment system. Avoid direct bank transfers, wire transfers, or payments requested outside of Etsy’s platform, as these methods offer little recourse in case of scams.
- Verify payment details – Double-check payment details before completing transactions. Confirm that the payment is processed through Etsy’s secure checkout system for added protection.
- Exercise caution with communication – Communicate exclusively through Etsy’s messaging system. Avoid sharing personal contact information or engaging in transactions outside the platform to prevent potential scams.
- Beware of unsolicited messages – Be wary of unsolicited messages from sellers offering deals or requesting personal information.
- Scrutinize product details and policies – Carefully review product descriptions: Thoroughly read product descriptions and examine accompanying photos. Keep off listings with vague or inconsistent details that raise doubts about the product’s authenticity.
- Understand return and refund policies – Familiarize yourself with the seller’s return and refund policies. Genuine sellers often have clear and reasonable policies for resolving issues.
- Document transactions and keep records – Keep records of all communications and transactions you make on Etsy. This documentation can be invaluable in case of disputes or issues with purchases. Capture essential details, including product descriptions, prices, and seller information, through screenshots for reference.
What To Do If You Get Scammed on Etsy
In case you get scammed on Etsy, do the following:
- Reach out to the seller directly – Start by contacting the Etsy seller to request a refund if you haven’t already. Politely communicate your concerns and ask for a resolution regarding the issue.
- File a support ticket with etsy – If the seller is unresponsive or declines a refund, consider opening a support ticket directly with Etsy. Although their support might have its limitations, having this documented interaction can be beneficial when reporting the incident to authorities like the FTC or FBI.
- Initiate a chargeback via your credit card – If your purchase was made using a credit card, explore the option of filing a dispute with your credit card company. This can be an effective way to retrieve your money in case of fraudulent transactions.
- Secure your etsy account – As a precautionary measure, change your Etsy account password immediately. This step helps fortify your account against potential future unauthorized access scammers.
- Implement a credit freeze – Contact the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—to request a credit freeze. This added security measure prevents scammers from misusing your personal information for unauthorized financial activities.
- Report the fraud – Inform the FTC through their reporting portal at report fraud.ftc.gov. Reporting the incident assists in preventing others from falling victim to similar scams. If there’s suspicion of compromised personal information, file an identity theft report at IdentityTheft.gov.
- Monitor your financial activity – Stay vigilant by regularly checking your credit reports and bank statements for any suspicious transactions or activities. Alternatively, consider using a reliable credit monitoring service or financial protection tools to safeguard your information.
- Consider identity theft protection services – Explore options for identity theft protection services. These services offer comprehensive monitoring of sensitive information, financial accounts, and online credentials. Additionally, they provide essential security tools and support from fraud resolution experts, along with insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft.
Etsy Buyer Protection Mechanisms
Etsy is dedicated to fostering a safe and secure environment for buyers, offering several protective mechanisms to ensure a positive purchasing experience.
Etsy’s buyer protection mechanisms aim to provide reassurance and support to buyers, ensuring that they have avenues to address issues encountered during their shopping experience.
Etsy does the following to protect their users:
- Case resolution center: Etsy’s platform includes a Case Resolution Center that enables buyers to address issues encountered with their purchases. This feature allows users to open cases, communicate concerns, and seek resolutions in cases of non-delivery, items not as described, or other discrepancies.
- Transparent policies – Etsy encourages sellers to establish clear and transparent refund and return policies, which are visible on their shop pages. Buyers can review these policies before making a purchase to understand their rights and options in case of problems.
- Timely case openings – Buyers have a specific timeframe within which they can open a case, usually within 100 days from the order date or a reasonable period after the estimated delivery date. This ensures that buyers have the opportunity to address issues promptly.
- Mediation and resolution assistance – Etsy facilitates communication between buyers and sellers to resolve disputes amicably. In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, Etsy may step in to mediate and make a fair decision based on provided evidence and platform policies.
- Evidence submission – Buyers are encouraged to submit evidence supporting their case, such as photographs, messages, or any relevant documentation that helps clarify the issue. Clear evidence aids in efficient resolution.
- Refund processes – If Etsy determines that a buyer is eligible for a refund, the platform manages the refund process. Refunds can be issued to the original payment method or as Etsy Credits, depending on the circumstances of the case
- Communication – Etsy promotes open and respectful communication between buyers and sellers throughout the dispute resolution process. Clear and prompt communication facilitates a smoother resolution process.