Is Etsy safe? 8 Etsy scams to know and avoid in 2024
October 06, 2023 13 min
Etsy is the go-to online platform for unique handmade and vintage items. But is Etsy safe? We unpack the most common Etsy scams, share tips for how to help prevent Etsy fraud, and explain what to do if you get scammed. Plus, find out how Norton 360 Deluxe can serve as your digital shield, helping to protect you against online threats.
In this type of internet scam, an Etsy scammer advertises a product that's of a much higher quality than what they end up shipping to you. Some scammers sell fake branded products using images stolen from genuine manufacturers.
For example, you might see a listing for a “handmade designer bag” sold at a fraction of the average retail price. When the bag arrives, it’s clearly a counterfeit, made of inferior materials, or lacking the craftsmanship that was advertised.
Scam details: Instead of getting the high-quality designer product you ordered, you get a cheaper, sometimes fake, product instead.
How to avoid the scam: Before buying a product, do a reverse image Google search to check if the image has been lifted from somewhere else. And always be on the lookout for deals or prices that seem too good to be true.
2. Wrong address scams
In a wrong address scam, the seller intentionally ships your purchased item to an incorrect address, usually one they own or control. When you don’t receive your item and raise a claim, the scammer provides proof of shipping to Etsy, which complicates your refund process. Some scammers may even use stolen or fake shipment tracking numbers to “prove” that an item was delivered.
Scam details: Etsy scammers intentionally ship your order to the wrong address, often one they have access to.
How to avoid the scam: Carefully review your shipping confirmation email, paying particular attention to the shipping address and package dimensions. If you notice any discrepancies, reach out to the seller or Etsy immediately.
A wrong address scam happens when a seller intentionally ships your item to the wrong address.
3. Off-platform payment scams
Etsy’s purchase protection program goes a long way in protecting you from scammers. But in an off-platform payment scam, the scammer usually promises a discount or some other enticement if you make the purchase through a payment app like Venmo or PayPal.
Other scammers may ask for cryptocurrency or a wire transfer, and some may even try to scam you out of gift cards. Then, once you’ve made the payment, they don't send the item or close the shop altogether, leaving you with no recourse for getting your money back.
Scam details: Scammers lure buyers into paying outside of Etsy, often with promises of discounts. After the payment, they don’t ship the item, and the buyer has no way of requesting a refund.
How to avoid the scam: Don’t make a purchase outside of Etsy’s secure payment system, no matter how tempting the offer. If a seller suggests an off-platform transaction, report them to Etsy.
4. Hacked account scams
Not all Etsy scams are just about stealing your money. More complex scams involve hackers trying to access your personal information, including your account credentials and payment details. Scammers can use smishing,spoofing, and other methods to spread malware and get access to your accounts.
For example, you may receive a phishing email claiming to be from Etsy customer service. The email is carefully crafted to deceive you into revealing your login credentials, giving the scammer unauthorized access to your account.
Scam details: Scammers use phishing techniques and other deceptive methods to trick you into revealing your account credentials and payment information.
If you start to see the same product listed in different Etsy shops for vastly different prices, it could be a sign you’re dealing with a scam. Scammers sometimes list the same item in multiple shops, and even across platforms, at different prices. If you buy a cheap one, they may say it is out of stock and try to get you to visit the more expensive listing.
Scam details: Scammers list the same item across various Etsy shops with varying prices. If you opt for a cheaper listing, they claim it’s out of stock and direct you to a more expensive one.
How to avoid the scam: Copy and paste part of the product description into Google to see if the item has been listed elsewhere for a different price. You can also do a reverse image search. If you find it listed elsewhere for a very different price, it’s likely a scam.
6. Bait-and-switch scams
Similar to counterfeit product scams, bait-and-switch scams are a type of Etsy fraud where the product you receive is wildly different from what you ordered. Often, the same items are sold across the internet for much lower prices, with Etsy scammers marking them up as supposedly handmade items.
This Etsy account is selling a popular garden set from a well-known furniture store and claiming it’s handmade.
Scam details: Etsy scammers sell cheap, poor-quality items sourced from other online platforms as fake handmade crafts.
How to avoid the scam: Always read the fine print in product descriptions — sometimes scammers hide product information there to protect themselves from fraud allegations, hoping you won’t look too closely.
7. Fake Etsy shop scams
In extreme cases, Etsy scammers set up fake shops for the sole purpose of collecting your cash and payment details. Often by the time you realize you’ve been scammed, the shop has disappeared. While you may be able to halt the payment via your bank, the scammers could still end up with some of your personal information, which can lead to further fraud or even identity theft.
Scam details: Scammers set up fake Etsy shops to steal your money or personal information, with no intention of fulfilling your order.
How to avoid the scam: Carefully look out for signs of a fake Etsy store, such as poor grammar, suspicious product listings, and minimal store history. Keep communicating with the seller after you make your purchase. If they fail to meet their obligations, report the scammer to Etsy immediately.
8. Malicious website scams
Malicious website scams on Etsy involve scammers enticing customers to external websites with the promise of lower prices. Once you leave Etsy, you may end up on an unsafe website designed to infect your device with malware or steal your personal information. In the worst-case scenario, these sites may help hackers gain access to your device.
Scam details: Scammers lure Etsy customers to malicious websites designed to spread malware, steal personal information, or take over your device.
How to avoid the scam: Stick to making transactions through Etsy’s secure platform. If a seller attempts to redirect you to an external website, report them.
How to spot an Etsy scam
There are some common warning signs to watch out for that could help you spot an Etsy scam — including seller profiles full of grammar mistakes, requests for payments outside the platform, and bad reviews. Read on to learn how to tell if an Etsy seller is legit or not.
A profile full of spelling and grammatical errors, lacking in detailed information, or using generic stock images can all be signs of an Etsy scammer. A legitimate seller typically has a complete profile, with details about themselves, their craft, and their business.
Little to no sales history
Because scammers often create new profiles just to carry out their schemes, always check to see if the Etsy seller has a history of sales to other customers. Of course, not all new sellers are scammers. But be extra cautious when purchasing from a seller with no previous sales or reviews — it may be a fake Etsy account.
Requests for outside payment
Beware of sellers who insist on making transactions outside of Etsy’s secure payment platform by asking for Venmo, cryptocurrency, or direct bank transfers. It’s almost certainly a scam, and they’re likely trying to evade the platform’s protections.
Trust the wisdom of crowds and avoid Etsy sellers with lots of negative reviews. You can’t go wrong following this advice — you’ll either avoid a scam or steer clear of a bad seller.
Avoid sellers with lots of negative reviews.
Stolen product pictures
If the product images look overly professional or are inconsistent with other items in the shop, perform a reverse image search to see if they appear elsewhere on the internet. If they do — it’s most likely a scam.
Long wait times and costly shipping methods
Unusually long delivery times or exorbitant shipping costs with no explanation can be a red flag. Some Etsy scammers use these tactics to buy time or extract more money from buyers.
Slow message response times
Etsy allows you to message a seller before you make a purchase. A legitimate seller usually responds to messages promptly. If the seller is unresponsive or slow to respond, it may be because they’re a scammer.
Links to external websites
Be very suspicious if a seller tries to redirect you to an external website to complete a transaction. Aside from falling victim to Etsy fraud, visiting unsafe websites can compromise your security and privacy in other ways, too.
Trust your instincts if something appears too good to be true. Genuine luxury or high-quality handmade items are rarely heavily discounted. Extreme discounts are often a sign of counterfeit products or a scam.
Requests for personal information
An Etsy scammer may use a pending transaction as an excuse to ask you for personal information, hoping you'll give it to them without thinking twice. To help protect yourself against identity theft, don’t share sensitive personal information with an Etsy seller — or any stranger on the internet for that matter.
Using a tool like the Norton Privacy Monitor Assistant can help you keep your information private. It scans for your personal information on data broker sites and notifies you if your data leaks, which helps you take action to secure your data.
How to protect against Etsy scams
Sticking to safe online shopping practices can greatly reduce your risk of being scammed on Etsy. Here are some key ways to help protect yourself against Etsy scams:
Use strong passwords. Always use a complex and unique password for your Etsy account. This simple action goes a long way in protecting your online security and privacy.
Research the seller before purchasing. Check out their sales history, reviews and ratings, and their profile. If anything feels off, be cautious.
Use a VPN. Using a VPN while shopping on public Wi-Fi can help prevent a hacker from intercepting your login credentials.
Perform a reverse image search. If a product looks too good to be true, do a quick reverse image search to see if it’s sold elsewhere.
Stick to Etsy's official site. As a rule, don’t make purchases outside the platform from sellers you find on Etsy.
Enable multi-factor authentication. Enabling 2FA on your online accounts adds an additional layer of security by requiring two or more login methods.
Use antivirus software. Make sure all your devices are protected with up-to-date antivirus software. Online protection can help detect and block threats if you accidentally open a malicious link or visit a dangerous website.
A great way to help protect yourself from online scams is by using a security solution like Norton 360 Deluxe. This comprehensive software not only includes advanced antivirus and malware protection, it also features a built-in VPN to encrypt your connection and help you browse and shop more securely.
If you suspect you’ve been scammed on Etsy, follow this step-by-step guide to protect yourself and your personal information.
Request a refund. First, request a refund from the seller. If they don’t respond, escalate the issue to Etsy.
Report the scam to Etsy. Report a specific item or an entire shop using the instructions in the Etsy Help Center.
File a chargeback for your payment card. If your refund request and report to Etsy don’t solve the problem, contact your bank or credit card company to dispute the charge. Be prepared to provide them with details and evidence of the scam.
Change your Etsy password. Change your Etsy password immediately to protect your account. This is particularly important in a suspected identity theft or account hacking incident.
Freeze your credit (if needed). If you suspect your personal information was stolen, consider freezing your credit report, an important step in preventing scammers from opening lines of credit and other accounts in your name.
Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC tracks and investigates scam complaints. Report the scam via the FTC website and you may get additional advice from them.
Monitor your financial statements. Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. If you spot any unusual activity, contact your financial institution immediately.
Shopping online with peace of mind
Etsy is a great place to shop as long as you stay informed about the potential threats and stay on top of your online security. Your own vigilance is important—and a comprehensive online security solution like Norton 360 Deluxe will help provide the additional support you need to shop with peace of mind.
With a suite of features including cutting-edge antivirus protection and a built-in VPN, Norton 360 Deluxe helps you shop on Etsy confidently and securely. Get Norton 360 Deluxe today to protect your digital lifexe
Yes, Etsy is a legitimate online marketplace specializing in handmade and vintage products. However, as with any online marketplace, scammers try to take advantage of security weaknesses and unsuspecting victims to scam people.
Is Etsy safe?
Yes, Etsy is generally safe. They use various security measures to help protect sellers and buyers. However, be sure to make purchases only through the platform and stay on the lookout for potential scams.
Will Etsy refund money if scammed?
If you’re scammed on Etsy and you can’t resolve the issue with the seller, you should report it to Etsy. They may give you a refund or start an investigation. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, you may be eligible for a refund.
What happens if you never get your Etsy order?
If your order never arrives, you should first report the issue to the seller. If they don't respond appropriately, you can file a case with Etsy. Always keep communication and transactions within the Etsy platform to ensure you’re covered by their protection policies.
Olga Knezevic is a Prague-based cybersecurity writer whose work explores online privacy and all things Wi-Fi. She provides a unique perspective on information access in the digital era, due to her previous experience as a librarian and e-learning specialist.
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