Is Etsy Safe? 7 Etsy Scams You Didn’t Know About (Until Now)

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Irina Malteseva

Contributor at Aura

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    Is It Safe To Buy Items on Etsy?

    When Megan Grant ordered a wooden shelf on Etsy, she thought she was getting a handmade piece from a small business [*]. Instead, she received a mass-produced item being sold at Kmart for almost half the price.  

    While Megan was annoyed that she was swindled by an unscrupulous Etsy seller, the truth is that she got off easy. Like other online marketplaces, scammers have found ways to take advantage of buyers (and sellers) on Etsy. 

    Etsy scams range from overpriced or misrepresented items to sophisticated schemes designed to hack your online accounts and steal your sensitive financial and personal information. 

    In this guide, we’ll show you how to tell if you’re dealing with a fraudulent Etsy seller, cover the seven latest Etsy scams to watch out for, and explain what to do if you’ve been scammed. 

    Is Etsy Safe? Can You Really Get Scammed on Etsy?

    Etsy is an online marketplace that is best known for its handmade goods and crafts. While the vast majority of products and shop owners on Etsy.com are legitimate, it’s still possible to get scammed by fraudulent sellers (and buyers). 

    Etsy scams are similar to other scams you might find on online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and OfferUp

    Here are the most typical ways you can get scammed on Etsy:

    1. Fake or counterfeit products. Fraudsters create stores that sell low-quality or counterfeit items — all while pretending to be selling handmade goods.
    2. Fake listings and shops. Scammers list fake items or create entirely fraudulent Etsy stores in order to steal your money and personal information.
    3. Shipping the wrong products or sending them to the wrong address. Con artists purposefully send items to the wrong address so they show as “delivered” — and you can’t claim a refund.
    4. Hacking your account. These scams are conducted by both buyers and sellers, and are designed to gain access to banking or credit card details that are linked to your Etsy account.
    5. Forcing you to use non-reversible payment methods. Most sales made through Etsy’s platform are protected against fraud. Scammers try to get around this by persuading you to pay them off-platform by using gift cards, wire transfers, or apps like Venmo or Cash App that are harder to reverse. 
    Take action: If Etsy scammers gain access to your personal information or Etsy profile, your bank account and finances could be at risk. Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection secures your credit file, bank and investment accounts, and personal data from fraudsters. Try Aura free for 14 days

    How To Tell If an Etsy Seller Is a Scammer

    The easiest way to avoid being scammed on Etsy (or whenever you’re shopping online) is to research shops and sellers. 

    Here are some telltale signs that you’re dealing with an Etsy scammer:

    Store profile and history

    Scam Etsy stores are new, with little to no sales history; and their listings and store profiles often include grammatical errors, typos, or weirdly-phrased sentences. As much as possible, try to stick with established Etsy stores reflecting clear histories of legitimate sales. 

    Product images

    Etsy scammers steal product images from other stores or manufacturers and try to pass them off as their own. 

    One of the easiest ways to see if a product listing is fake is to run a reverse image search by using a free site like Tineye. If the exact image shows up on other listings or is from a company’s website, you know you’re dealing with a fraudster. 

    Shipping and delivery rates (and timelines)

    Any credible Etsy sellers will share their shipping fees and timelines directly on their profiles. 

    These details can also offer some warning signs that you’re dealing with a scammer, such as:

    • Long shipping timelines. There are only two legitimate reasons for extra-long shipping times: either you’re buying from an overseas store, or it’s a made-to-order item. Scammers who resell cheap items often ship them directly from overseas factories, which can lead to an extended shipping time. 
    • Expensive shipping costs. If an item costs a lot to ship and the seller can’t give you a credible reason, it’s likely a scam. 

    Store reviews and customer feedback

    Negative reviews are a major red flag that you’re dealing with scammers. However, even an abundance of good reviews doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get scammed. 

    Fraudsters create fake profiles and write positive reviews of their own stores. When inspecting a store, don’t just skim over five-star reviews. Instead, look for signs they’re fake, such as similar wording and language, or all of the reviews being posted in around the same time period. 

    Comments and reviews on other social media platforms

    While scammers can create fake reviews on Etsy, it’s harder for them to hide bad reviews or negative feedback on Google or on social media platforms. 

    If in doubt, search the store or seller’s name in Google and on social media platforms — for example, “[Store/seller name] + reviews/scam/legit.”

    Response time

    Response time doesn’t always indicate whether you’re dealing with a scammer, but it can warn you not to continue with a seller. Any Etsy seller who takes longer than 24 hours to respond to a message is either inexperienced, unreliable, or a scammer. 

    💡 Related: How To Shop Online Safely (Without Getting Scammed)

    The 7 Latest Etsy Scams To Watch Out For

    1. Sellers promoting fake or counterfeit products through Etsy ads
    2. Fake Etsy shops that steal your money and personal information
    3. Receiving items that are wildly different from what you ordered
    4. Sellers purposefully shipping items to the wrong address
    5. Multiple shops listing the same product
    6. Sellers requesting payment off of the Etsy platform
    7. Scammers hacking your Etsy account

    From shops selling fake and misleading products to shipping scams and hacked accounts, here are seven of the latest Etsy scams.  

    1. Sellers promoting fake or counterfeit products through Etsy ads

    The most common Etsy scam by far involves sellers listing fake, counterfeit, or misrepresented products in their stores. 

    For example, the Etsy Scams Twitter account posted about one store that had sold nearly 40,000 pieces of jewelry listed as “self made” or vintage items. In reality, the items were mass produced and being sold on AliExpress at a fraction of the price.

    Post from the Etsy Scams Twitter account
    Source: Twitter
    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Do a reverse image search of the product photos on Tineye to see if they show up anywhere else. 
    • Don’t trust the shop’s location listed in their store. Many scammers list their store locations as Europe or America, but use dropshipping to send items directly from China or other overseas countries. 
    • Remember the golden rule of fraud prevention: If the price for an item seems too good to be true, it probably is

    💡 Related: How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You Online

    2. Fake Etsy shops that steal your money and personal information

    Some Etsy scammers aren’t just after your money — they want to steal your identity as well. These scammers create fake stores simply to capture your personal or payment information — with no intention of shipping you items. 

    In one example, an Etsy shopper supposedly bought camera accessories. But two days later, the buyer hadn’t received any shipping information. When they went back to check on the sale, the Etsy store had disappeared. While they eventually were able to stop the payment through their bank, the fake store had still gained access to the buyer’s personal information [*]. 

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Look for signs that you’re dealing with a fake store — such as poor spelling and grammar, fake product listings, or little to no store history.
    • Make sure you follow up with sellers after placing an order. Check their shipping times and ensure that they’re following the timelines they’ve promised. If not, ask for a refund or reach out to Etsy and report the problem. 
    Take action: If your financial information gets compromised, scammers can empty your bank accounts or take out loans in your name. An identity theft protection service with credit monitoring will warn you of any suspicious activity before fraudsters can do too much damage. Try Aura free for 14 days and secure your finances against criminals. 

    3. Receiving items that are wildly different from what you ordered

    In this classic bait-and-switch scam, fraudsters advertise products on Etsy and then ship something that’s either cheaper or significantly inferior. In one case, an Etsy shopper paid $70 for an elaborate handmade incense kit, but instead received a box full of Dollar Store items [*].

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Read the fine print of the listing to make sure you know what you are actually buying. Scammers sometimes hide product details in tiny fonts or long-winded descriptions. 
    • Take a screenshot of the listing for your records after ordering. This will help you dispute the transaction once the order arrives.
    • Check the photos and customer reviews for any discrepancies with the product description. If others have fallen for this scam, they most likely have written negative reviews. 

    4. Sellers purposefully shipping items to the wrong address

    As a marketplace, Etsy has systems in place to protect both buyers and sellers. One, which scammers take advantage of, protects sellers against buyers claiming they never received their orders. 

    In this scam, fraudsters purposefully put the wrong address on a shipment — often one they control. When you try to request a refund or submit a claim with Etsy, the fraudsters can “show” that the item was delivered. 

    Scammers may also use stolen or fake USPS tracking numbers to prove that the items were delivered — and steal your money. 

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Check the details on your shipping confirmation email — especially the shipping address, package size, and weight. If you see any inaccuracies, contact the seller or Etsy immediately. 

    💡 Related: Was Your Amazon Package Stolen? Here’s What To Do

    5. Multiple shops listing the same product

    In this scam, fraudsters open multiple stores across Etsy and other platforms, and list the same products at different price points. For example, they may list the same item for $50, $100, and $200 to see how much they can make on it. If you try to buy it at a lower price, they’ll tell you it’s out of stock or run a different scam on you. 

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Google a few sentences from the product description to see if it comes up on multiple sites or listings. Scammers almost always copy and paste their product listings, so you should be able to find if a listing has been used repeatedly. 
    • Run the product photos through TinEye to see if the seller is listing the item in multiple places on Etsy, Shopify, or anywhere else.
    • Search for the product or company name in Facebook and TikTok’s ad libraries. If scammers are advertising their shop(s) on social media, you may be able to catch the fraud that way.  

    6. Sellers requesting payment off of the Etsy platform

    Purchases made on Etsy are either protected by Etsy’s Buyer Protection or through your credit card’s fraud protection. In this scam, fraudsters claim to have issues with Etsy’s payment system, or they offer you a “special discount” if you pay them through gift cards, wire transfers, crypto, or payment apps like PayPal or Venmo. 

    The problem? Funds disbursed via all of these payment methods are almost impossible to refund or trace once you’ve sent them. Even worse, if you pay for an item outside of the Etsy website, you’ll be unable to file a dispute or get a refund. 

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Never pay for an item outside of Etsy’s platform. If someone asks you to pay with an alternative method, they’re trying to scam you. 

    💡 Related: Did You Get Scammed on Cash App? Here’s What To Do

    7. Scammers hacking your Etsy account

    Etsy scams most often target buyers — but hackers target both buyers and sellers. 

    Scammers use phishing emails, malware, fake websites, or fraudulent Etsy support numbers listed in search results to trick you into giving up your account credentials. 

    Fraudsters buy ads that promote fake Etsy phone numbers to trick you into calling them. Source: Twitter
    Fraudsters buy ads that promote fake Etsy phone numbers to trick you into calling them. Source: Twitter

    For buyers, a hacked Etsy account gives scammers access to your credit card information, address, and other sensitive information. 

    For sellers, hackers can redirect payments, change your account information, and steal data from your customers. 

    In one example, a former Etsy seller had her account hacked after scammers discovered her old email address password and used it to request a password reset. Once they had access to her account, they tried to intercept funds from recent sales and change her email address to lock her out of her account [*].

    How to identify (and avoid) this Etsy scam:
    • Secure your Etsy account by using a strong, unique password and two-factor authentication (2FA). For added security, use a secure password manager — like the one included with Aura — to store your credentials and warn you if they’ve been compromised. 
    • Make sure any emails you receive come from an official “etsy.com” email address. Scammers often create lookalike domains or subdomains to trick you into thinking they’re legitimate (for example, “Esty.io” or “Etsy.track-shipments.com”). 
    • If you think you’ve been scammed, monitor your bank and credit card statements for any unusual activity or unauthorized transactions. 

    💡 Related: How To Tell if An Email Is From a Scammer

    Did You Get Scammed on Etsy? Do This!

    If you got scammed on Etsy, follow these steps to secure your account, try and recover your money, and protect yourself against further identity theft and fraud. 

    • Contact the Etsy seller directly. If you haven’t done so already, your first step should be to request a refund from the seller. 
    • File a support ticket with Etsy directly. If the seller doesn’t respond or refuses to send a refund, open a support ticket directly with Etsy. Etsy’s support is known to be slow and not always helpful — but a support ticket is proof to use when submitting a fraud claim with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or FBI.  
    • File a chargeback with your credit card company. If you paid for the item with your credit card, you can file a dispute and get the money back. 
    • Change your Etsy account password. If there is any chance that scammers may have access to your profile, you should change your password immediately. This will make it harder for them to intercept your account again.  
    • Freeze your credit. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — to request a credit freeze. This stops scammers from using your personal information to take out loans or open new accounts in your name. 
    • Report the fraud to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov. Alert the FTC about the fraud to help others avoid becoming victims. If you think scammers gained access to your personal information or Etsy account, file an identity theft report at IdentityTheft.gov.
    • Monitor your credit and bank statements. Scammers may try to access your financial accounts or take out loans in your name. Monitor your credit and bank statements for any suspicious activity. Or, use a credit monitoring service like Aura to protect your data for you.
    • Consider signing up for identity theft protection. Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection service monitors your most sensitive information, financial accounts, and online credentials for signs of fraud. Every Aura plan also includes powerful online security tools — such as antivirus software, a virtual private network (VPN), password manager, and more — as well as 24/7 U.S.-based Fraud Resolution Specialists and $1,000,000 insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft. 

    💯 Protect your identity, finances, and online accounts. Try Aura free for 14 days

    Does Etsy Offer Protection for Buyers?

    A lot of people complain about Etsy’s customer support — mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to reach a real person, and you’re most often told to simply contact the seller directly.

    However, Etsy does offer buyer protection in certain situations, including if: 

    • Items are delivered late 
    • Items are damaged or broken
    • Items don’t match the listing description, or you receive the wrong quantity of the item  
    • The condition of the item was misrepresented

    Unfortunately, there are some loopholes in Etsy’s buyer protection terms, which can still leave you feeling helpless if you get scammed. For example, you can only request a refund if you can prove you’ve tried to resolve the issue with the seller directly. 

    In addition, Etsy can deny your refund claim if:

    • Your buyer’s account is not in good standing 
    • The products have been altered in any way 
    • The products were received late because of shipping delays
    • The products were returned without a return agreement 
    • Items were purchased off of the Etsy platform — including in-person transactions

    Rather than rely on Etsy’s protection plan, it’s always better to avoid getting scammed in the first place.

    The Bottom Line: Stay Safe When Shopping on Etsy

    While the vast majority of users won’t have any issues shopping on Etsy, you don’t want to be among the unlucky few who end up getting scammed. 

    To keep yourself, your money, and your Etsy account safe while shopping, make sure to follow these tips: 

    • Use a virtual private network (VPN) when shopping online or on public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN prevents hackers from being able to intercept your data (including payment information or your Etsy password). 
    • Create unique, strong passwords for all of your online accounts, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. 
    • Slow down and research Etsy sellers before purchasing from them. Make sure every seller has a solid history of positive transactions and isn’t boosting ratings through fake reviews. 
    • Conduct reverse image searches on product photos to see if they come up on multiple sites or listings. If they do, make sure that the seller is being honest about their intentions and not trying to scam you into paying more for an item. 
    • Always read the fine print in a product listing and double-check the shipping costs and time frames.  
    • Never communicate with an Etsy seller off of Etsy or send money using an unapproved payment method.  

    Scammers are everywhere — even on Etsy. To enjoy peace of mind knowing that your identity and finances are secure, consider signing up for Aura. 

    Shop, browse, and work online safely. Try Aura free for 14 days 

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers