Etsy Scams: 20 Effective Strategies to Detect and Avoid Them in 2024

Reading Time: 16 minutes

In the vibrant ecommerce business platform that is Etsy, it’s crucial to be aware of potential pitfalls and scams. Recognizing and avoiding Etsy scams is a key skill for all Etsy shoppers, ensuring a safe and satisfying buying experience.

One of the most effective strategies to avoid Etsy scams is to conduct thorough research on any seller you’re considering purchasing from.

Look at their sales history, customer reviews, and overall shop rating to evaluate their credibility. This initial step can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to scams and enhance your overall shopping experience on Etsy.

This post will provide a comprehensive list of tips and strategies to help you navigate and avoid potential scams on Etsy scams.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Research Sellers Thoroughly: Before purchasing on Etsy, check the seller’s history, including their number of sales, customer reviews, and overall shop rating. A track record of positive feedback is a good sign, while multiple complaints or unresolved disputes are red flags.
  • Scrutinize Listing Photos: Genuine sellers use original photos of their products. Be wary of stock images or photos from other websites, as these are common in scams. Check for consistency across listings and examine details closely using the zoom feature.
  • Be Cautious of Pricing Anomalies: Extremely low prices, especially for high-demand or high-value items, are common red flags for scams. Compare prices with similar products on Etsy and other platforms, and watch out for high shipping costs that may offset low item prices.
  • Read Item Descriptions Carefully: Detailed and clear product descriptions are signs of a credible seller. Vague or misleading descriptions, or those not matching the photos, should be questioned. Ask for more details if necessary.
  • Use Etsy’s Official Payment System: Always use Etsy’s secure payment system for transactions. Avoid sellers who request payment through non-secure methods or outside the Etsy platform, as this is often a sign of a scam.

Etsy Scams: How To Detect and Avoid Them

how to identify etsy scams and avoid them

1. Research Sellers to Avoid Etsy Scams

It is important to research Etsy sellers before making a purchase to avoid falling prey to Etsy scams.

Look at the number of sales they’ve made, the reviews they’ve received, and their overall shop rating. Scammers are likely to have few sales and negative or no reviews.

Always look for sellers with a track record of positive feedback. This is a primary consideration for detecting Etsy scams.

If a seller has multiple complaints or unresolved disputes, consider it a red flag and avoid purchasing from them.

Here are some key seller research tips and strategies you should employ:

Check Seller Reviews and Ratings

Seller reviews and ratings are excellent indicators of their reliability and the quality of their products.

Sellers with numerous positive reviews and high ratings are generally more trustworthy. Be cautious with sellers who have numerous negative reviews or very few reviews.

Evaluate Seller’s History

A long-standing seller with many sales and a strong presence on the platform is generally more reliable than a new seller with very few transactions.

If a seller’s account is new but they are selling high-demand or high-value items, proceed with caution.

Examine Listing Details

Authentic sellers usually provide detailed, accurate, and clear descriptions of the products they’re selling.

If the listing description is vague or misleading, or if it doesn’t match the pictures, it could be a scam.

Verify Product Photos

Check if the seller is using original photos or stock images.

Key indicators of Etsy scams are sellers often using stock images or images stolen from other websites. Authentic sellers usually take their own photos of the actual products they’re selling.

Verify the Price

If the prices of items seem too good to be true, they are likely red flags for Etsy scams.

Scammers often attract victims with incredibly low prices for high-demand or high-value items. Compare prices with similar products on Etsy and other platforms to ensure you’re paying a fair price.

Contact the Seller

Communicating with the seller before making a purchase can be a useful way to gauge their responsiveness and professionalism.

You can ask them about the product, the return policy, and any other concerns you may have. Among the major signs of Etsy scams are pretentious sellers who are unresponsive to queries from would-be customers.

Check Their Shop Policies and ‘About’ Section

A seller’s shop policies and ‘About’ section can give you insight into their business practices. If these sections are empty or vague, it could be a red flag.

Look for Secure Payment Methods

Trustworthy sellers will always use Etsy’s secure payment system. Be wary of sellers who ask for payment through non-secure methods or outside the Etsy platform.

2. Check Listing Photos

Scammers will often use stock photos or photos taken from other listings to present the items they’re selling.

They can be crafty, and a good photo doesn’t guarantee a legitimate product.

Here are some strategies to help you scrutinize photos effectively:

Look for Originality

Genuine sellers typically use original photos of the products they’re selling.

Scammers, on the other hand, often use stock photos or images stolen from other websites.

If the image appears in multiple listings across Etsy or other sites, it might be a stock photo, which can be a red flag.

Check for Consistency

If a seller has multiple items for sale, check if the style and quality of the photos are consistent across listings.

Differences in lighting, quality, or style might suggest that some photos have been copied from elsewhere.

Zoom In

Make use of the zoom feature to examine the product closely.

This can help you see details that aren’t visible in the overview photo and identify any potential issues with the product.

Quantity and Variety

Legitimate sellers often provide multiple photos from different angles, showing the product in detail.

If there is only one photo or if the photos don’t show the product from multiple angles, proceed with caution.

Assess the Background

Check the photo’s background.

Is it consistent? Does it look professional?

Photos taken in a personal setting (like a home or garden) can often indicate that the seller has the item in their possession, while generic or blank backgrounds could be a sign of a stock image.

Compare Photos to Descriptions

The photos should match the product description.

If the description mentions details or features that aren’t visible in the photos, ask the seller for more images.

Watermarks

Genuine sellers often watermark their photos to prevent others from stealing them.

If you see a watermark, it’s usually a good sign, but make sure the watermark matches the seller’s name or Etsy shop names.

Always combine these tips with other research, such as reading reviews and checking seller histories.

It’s better to take some time to research thoroughly than rush into a purchase that may lead to a scam.

3. Beware of Pricing

Scammers often list items at suspiciously low prices to attract buyers. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Always compare prices with similar items on Etsy and other platforms before purchasing. High-quality products will typically be priced accordingly.

Here are some interesting, dubious signs to watch out for:

Prices That Are Too Good to Be True

This is the most common pricing anomaly.

If a high-value or high-demand item is listed at an exceptionally low price, it could be a scam. Scammers often attract buyers with unbelievable deals.

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Inconsistent Pricing Among Similar Items

If a seller is offering similar items at drastically different prices without a valid reason, it’s cause for concern.

For instance, if two similar pieces of handmade jewelry have a significant price discrepancy, it might indicate a pricing anomaly.

Significant Price Reductions

A sudden and significant drop in price without a clear reason, such as a sale or clearance event, can be a red flag.

While sales are common in online retail, a drastic price cut on a high-value or popular item could indicate a scam.

High Shipping Costs

Some scammers may list an item at a low price but then inflate the shipping costs to make up for it.

Always check the total cost, including shipping, before making a purchase.

Comparison with Other Marketplaces

If an item’s price is drastically lower on Etsy than on other online marketplaces, this could be a red flag.

Scammers sometimes list items at significantly lower prices than on other platforms to attract victims.

Lack of Pricing Explanation

If an item is priced unusually high or low without any explanation in the listing description, it might be cause for concern.

Genuine sellers usually justify their pricing, especially if an item is particularly expensive or discounted.

4. Read Item Descriptions Carefully

Some scammers might try to deceive buyers by hiding important information in the item description.

Always read the item description carefully. If a crucial detail like the material, size, or condition of the item is missing or unclear, ask the seller for clarification.

5. Use Etsy’s Payment System

Etsy’s official payment system provides protection for buyers and sellers.

If a seller asks you to pay outside of Etsy, such as through a direct bank transfer or using a third-party payment system, it’s likely a scam.

Always insist on using Etsy’s payment system, and report any sellers who try to bypass it.

6. Check Delivery Dates

Some scammers might promise unrealistic delivery dates.

For instance, a seller from overseas promising to deliver an item in just a couple of days is likely not being truthful.

Always check the estimated delivery date and ensure it aligns with your expectations.

7. Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask sellers questions about their items.

Genuine sellers will usually be responsive and provide detailed answers, while scammers might be vague or evasive.

Asking about the item’s condition, history, or the seller’s return policy can help you avoid scams.

8. Check Return Policy

Scammers usually avoid offering returns because they don’t plan on delivering a quality product, or any product at all.

Always check the shop’s return policy before making a purchase. Sellers who offer returns are typically more reliable.

9. Beware of Fake Reviews

Scammers sometimes create fake reviews to give the impression that they’re legitimate.

If all the reviews on a listing were posted within a short time frame, or if they sound very similar, they could be fake. Genuine reviews will have a range of dates and individualized comments.

Here are some tell-tale signs to spot fake reviews:

Generic Content

Fake reviews often lack specific details about the product or the purchasing experience. If the review is vague and could apply to any product, it might be fake.

Similar Language or Phrasing

If multiple reviews use similar language or phrases or contain repeated content, it might be a sign of fake reviews. Authentic reviews are likely to vary significantly in tone, style, and content.

Review Timestamps

Multiple reviews posted within a short timeframe could be a red flag. It’s unusual for a seller to receive many reviews at the same time, unless it’s a high-volume seller.

All Reviews Are Positive

If a seller has only 5-star reviews and no one has anything negative to say about their products or service, it’s worth a second look.

Even the best sellers usually have a few customers who have less than-perfect experiences.

Reviewers’ Profiles

Click on the profiles of the reviewers. If they’ve only reviewed one product or only products from the same seller, it could indicate fake reviews.

Non-Personalized Photos

Etsy scams are rife with reviews that include personalized photos of the product can often be more trustworthy. Be cautious if all the review photos look like they could be stock photos or taken in the same location.

Excessive Praise

Overly enthusiastic reviews that seem to over-praise a product or seller without any constructive feedback might be suspicious. Authentic reviews often include both pros and cons.

Rapid Accumulation of Reviews

If a new shop gathers a large number of reviews in a short period of time, be cautious. Building up a collection of reviews typically takes time.

10. Verify Handmade Claims

If an item is listed as “handmade,” try to verify this claim.

Ask the seller about their production process or look for pictures of their workshop. If the seller can’t provide these details, they might be misrepresenting the item’s origin.

11. Be Cautious with High Demand Items

High-demand items like concert tickets or limited edition goods are common targets for scams.

Be especially cautious when buying such items. If the item is sold out everywhere else but available from a seller on Etsy, it might be a scam.

12. Secure Your Account

Ensuring your Etsy account is secure is crucial to avoiding scams.

Here are some key steps to ensure the security of your account:

Use Strong Passwords

Make sure you use a strong, unique password for your Etsy account.

It should be a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Never use easily guessed information like your name, date of birth, or ‘password123’.

Change Passwords Regularly

It’s a good practice to change your passwords every few months, especially if you suspect that your account may have been compromised.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

If Etsy offers two-factor authentication (2FA), make sure to enable it. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of identification, often a code sent to your mobile device.

Be Wary of Phishing Attempts

Never click on suspicious links sent via email or messages, even if they seem to be from Etsy. Phishing is a common technique used by scammers to gain access to your account.

Secure Your Email Account

Since your email is linked to your Etsy account, it’s essential to ensure that your email account is also secure.

Use a strong, unique password, and consider enabling two-factor authentication if your email provider offers it.

Monitor Your Account Activity

Regularly check your Etsy account for any unusual activity.

If you notice something strange, such as listings you didn’t create or messages you didn’t send, contact Etsy customer service immediately.

Don’t Share Your Account Information

Never share your Etsy login information with anyone, and avoid logging into your account from public computers or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

13. Always Verify Authenticity

For designer or brand name products, always ask the seller to provide proof of authenticity, like a certificate or a receipt.

If the seller cannot provide this or if the proof they provide seems suspicious, it could be a scam.

Here are a few more tips that can further help you ensure the authenticity of a seller and avoid Etsy scams:

Ask for Additional Information or Photos

If you’re not entirely convinced by the details provided in the listing, don’t hesitate to contact the seller for more information or pictures.

Authentic sellers usually don’t mind providing more details about their products.

Beware of Pressure Tactics

Scammers often use pressure tactics, such as limited-time offers or low stock warnings, to push you into making a quick decision.

Take your time to evaluate the seller and product properly.

Check the Seller’s Social Media Presence

Many genuine Etsy sellers also have a presence on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Pinterest.

This not only allows you to check the consistency of their products but also provides another avenue to interact with them or view reviews and comments.

Look for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Often, purveyors of Etsy scams do not pay much attention to the quality of their listing descriptions. Look for errors in spelling and grammar in both the product description and the seller’s communications.

Payment Methods

Be wary of sellers who ask for direct bank transfers, wire payments, or payments through unofficial platforms.

Always use Etsy’s secure payment system.

Check for an SSL Certificate

Ensure that your connection to Etsy is secure by looking for the lock icon next to the URL in your browser.

This indicates that your connection to the site is encrypted and less likely to be attacked by Etsy scams.

Purchase Protection Programs

Familiarize yourself with Etsy’s Purchase Protection Program. Understanding the circumstances under which you are protected can help you make safer purchasing decisions.

14. Contact Etsy Support

If you encounter any issues, suspicious behavior, or any of the signs or indications mentioned above, don’t hesitate to contact Etsy support.

They have resources to help protect buyers from scams.

15. Avoid Advance Payments

Be wary of sellers who request advance payments or deposits for custom orders.

Genuine sellers will typically use Etsy’s payment system, which holds the payment until the order is complete and the buyer is satisfied.

16. Beware of Private Messaging

Scammers may try to take communication off of Etsy’s platform to avoid detection.

Always keep communication within the Etsy system. If a seller tries to move the conversation elsewhere, report them to Etsy.

17. Report Suspicious Activity

If you come across a suspicious listing or seller, report them to Etsy.

By doing so, you not only protect yourself but also other buyers.

18. Be Cautious with Personal Information

Never share more personal or financial information than is necessary.

If sellers ask for additional information that doesn’t seem relevant to the transaction, it might be phishing attempts and are highly likely to be Etsy scams.

19. Use a Secure Connection

Always make sure you’re shopping over a secure connection. Look for the padlock symbol in your browser’s address bar, which indicates that your connection to the site is secure. Etsy scams are often propagated through unsecured or public networks.

20. Buy from Established Sellers

Whenever possible, buy from sellers with a long history and a good reputation on the platform to avoid Etsy scams.

While new sellers can be legitimate, buying from established sellers reduces the risk of falling victim to Etsy scams.

If you choose to buy from a new seller, start with smaller purchases to test their reliability.

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What To Do When You Fall Victim To Etsy Scams?

etsy scams what to do

If you suspect that you’ve fallen for Etsy scams, it’s crucial to take prompt and decisive action:

1. Stop Communication with the Scammer

As soon as you suspect that a transaction is fraudulent, stop all communication with the scammer.

You do not want to give them any additional information that they could potentially use against you.

2. Report Etsy Scams Immediately

Immediately report the issue to Etsy.

Provide them with all the details of the transaction, including any conversations you had with the seller. You can do this through the Etsy Case System.

It’s important to report Etsy scams not only to potentially get your money back but also to prevent the scammer from defrauding other users.

3. Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company

If you made your purchase with a credit card, contact your bank or credit card company to dispute the charges. Payment gateways are the primary attack points for Etsy scams.

They can often provide advice on the next steps and, in many cases, initiate a chargeback to get your money back.

4. Change Your Passwords

If you suspect that your Etsy account has been compromised, change your password immediately.

It’s also a good idea to change passwords for any other accounts that use the same or similar passwords.

5. Monitor Your Accounts

Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.

If you notice anything unusual or suspect Etsy scams lurking, report it to your bank or credit card company immediately.

6. Contact Local Authorities to Report Etsy Scams

If you have been a victim of Etsy scams, you may also want to report it to your local law enforcement or your country’s Internet crime division.

While they may not be able to get your money back, they can investigate the issue and potentially take action against the scammer.

7. Leave a Review

If you have been scammed by a seller on Etsy, leave a review on their profile detailing your experience. This can help warn other potential buyers.

8. Educate Yourself

Learn more about common scam tactics to better protect yourself in the future. Knowledge is power when it comes to avoiding Etsy scams.

Remember, the best defense against Etsy scams is prevention.

Always research sellers, check reviews, and use secure payment methods to protect yourself from potential fraud.

Seller’s Checklist: Navigating Etsy Scams in 2024

As an Etsy seller, staying ahead of scams is crucial for protecting your business and your customers. Use this comprehensive checklist to safeguard against the latest Etsy scams and ensure a secure selling environment.

  1. Stay Updated on the Latest Etsy Scams: Regularly check updates from Etsy and ecommerce security forums to keep abreast of emerging scams.
  2. Identify Etsy Scammers: Be vigilant of buyers with suspicious account activities. Look for patterns like rushed purchases or unusual requests that are common among Etsy scammers.
  3. Protect Against Being Scammed on Etsy: Implement secure business practices, such as using Etsy’s official communication channels and avoiding sharing personal information.
  4. Watch for Signs of an Etsy Scammer: Keep an eye out for red flags like buyers requesting off-platform communication or rush orders.
  5. Prevent Etsy Scam Tactics: Regularly update your store’s security settings and educate yourself about common scam techniques.
  6. Guard Against Scam Etsy Transactions: Use Etsy’s secure payment system to avoid non-reversible payment methods that are often exploited by scammers.
  7. Combat Fraud on Etsy: Monitor your account for any unauthorized activities that might indicate someone hacking your account or identity theft.
  8. Identify Fake Sellers on Etsy: Verify the authenticity of other sellers, especially if partnering for cross-promotions or joint ventures.
  9. Detect Fake Product Listings: Regularly audit your listings to ensure they haven’t been duplicated or misrepresented by scammers.
  10. Spot Fake Listings and Shops: Keep an eye on similar shops or listings that might use your product images or descriptions.
  11. Avoid Selling Counterfeit Goods: Ensure all your products are authentic and adhere to Etsy’s policies to maintain trust and buyer protection.
  12. Prevent Identity Theft: Protect your account details and be cautious when sharing personal information, even with seemingly legitimate inquiries.
  13. Secure Your Account from Hacking: Regularly update your passwords and use two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access.
  14. Use Secure Payment Methods: Avoid payment fraud by sticking to Etsy’s recommended payment channels.
  15. Implement Robust Fraud Prevention Measures: Regularly review your shop’s transaction history for any signs of fraudulent activity.
  16. Enhance Fraud Protection: Consider additional security measures, such as third-party fraud protection services.
  17. Adhere to Shipping Timelines: Accurate shipping timelines help maintain credibility and reduce the risk of disputes, which scammers may exploit.

This checklist is designed to incorporate the latest insights and practices for combating Etsy scams, ensuring both you and your customers are protected. Regularly updating your strategies and staying informed are key components of a successful, scam-free Etsy experience.

Etsy Scams – Summary

Navigating the world of Etsy requires a proactive approach to ensure a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.

By researching sellers, checking listing photos, using Etsy’s payment system, and being cautious with high-demand items, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to Etsy scams.

It’s crucial to keep your personal information secure, report any suspicious activities, and always verify the authenticity of high-value items.

We encourage you to explore our blog for more useful posts related to Etsy shopping, safety tips, and more, such as:

Remember, the key is to remain vigilant and make informed decisions.

Scams may be a potential hazard in any online marketplace like successful Etsy shops, but with these tips, you can confidently protect yourself and continue to enjoy the unique items Etsy has to offer.

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Etsy Scams – FAQs

How do you tell if someone is scamming you on Etsy?

There are several red flags that might indicate Etsy scams.

These include sellers asking for payment outside of Etsy’s platform, extremely low prices that seem too good to be true, unoriginal or stock photos used in listings, and sellers with little to no sales history or negative reviews.

Always research sellers thoroughly before making a purchase to avoid potential Etsy scams.

Is it Ethical to buy from Etsy?

Etsy is a reputable online marketplace with millions of active sellers and buyers.

While the majority of transactions on Etsy are trustworthy, as with any online platform, there’s a small risk of encountering fraudulent sellers responsible for Etsy scams.

To mitigate this risk, use the tips and strategies outlined in this guide.

Will Etsy refund me if I am scammed?

Etsy has measures in place to protect buyers, including the Etsy Case System.

If you haven’t received an item or the item isn’t as described, you can open a case with Etsy. If Etsy rules in your favor, you may be eligible for a refund.

Is Etsy a safe website to sell on?

Yes, Etsy is generally a safe, legit, and secure platform for sellers. The site offers several protections for sellers, including a secure payment system.

However, sellers should also be aware of potential Etsy scams from buyers, such as fraudulent payments or false claims about received items.

What should I do if I suspect a scam on Etsy?

If you are suspicious of sellers involved with Etsy scams, report the behavior to Etsy Support.

Additionally, avoid making any further transactions with the suspected scammer and refrain from sharing any personal or financial information.

How can I secure my account to avoid Etsy scams?

To secure your Etsy account, use a strong, unique password and consider enabling two-factor authentication to avoid Etsy scams.

Never share your Etsy login details with anyone, and make sure you log out after each session, especially when using public computers.

Are there Etsy scams that involve high-demand items?

Yes, scammers often target high-demand items, such as concert tickets or limited-edition goods.

Be cautious when buying such items, especially if they’re sold out everywhere else but available on Etsy.

How do you know if a seller is legit?

Verify a seller’s genuineness by checking their sales history, reviews, response rate, and the information provided in their shop’s ‘About‘ section.

Genuine sellers usually have positive reviews and a transparent business process.

Should I trust a seller who only communicates outside of Etsy?

No, it’s best to keep all communication within Etsy’s messaging system. Etsy scams are rife for those who communicate with customers outside the market platform.

If a seller insists on communicating or conducting transactions outside of Etsy, it could be a scam.

Is my information safe on Etsy?

You should only provide the necessary information required for the transaction, such as your shipping address to avoid Etsy scams.

If a seller asks for additional personal or financial information, it might be a scam. Always keep your personal details secure.

About the author

Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links, from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products and services I’ve used or would use myself. If you choose to purchase from any of my links, thanks so much for your support! 😊

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