Beware of Etsy Scams: Learn How to Shop Safely and Avoid Fraud in 2024

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Concerned about Etsy scams? Detecting deceitful sellers and bogus listings is key to a secure online shopping experience. This article delivers straightforward indicators of scams on Etsy, prevention strategies, and recommendations on handling any scam encounters.

Stay alert and shop with confidence as we guide you through the layers of Etsy’s marketplace security. Arm yourself with knowledge about these deceptive practices and learning how to navigate the marketplace safely.

Key Takeaways

  • Etsy scams involve creating fake shops and listings to defraud buyers, and scammers are using sophisticated methods such as AI, triangulation fraud, and digital fingerprint manipulation to avoid detection.

  • Shoppers should be vigilant for red flags such as new profiles with minimal sales history, poor spelling and grammar, and vague product descriptions to identify deceptive Etsy shops and protect themselves from scams.

  • To safeguard against Etsy scams, users are advised to use strong passwords, two-factor authentication, monitor account activity, adhere to safe payment practices exclusively on the Etsy platform, and report any suspicious activity or unauthorised charges immediately.

Understanding Etsy Scams: A 2024 Guide

Illustration of a person browsing online marketplace with caution - Etsy Scams

Just like any other online marketplace, Etsy, while being a legitimate platform, is also susceptible to scams. Scammers on Etsy consistently adapt their strategies to overcome security measures and deceive unsuspecting buyers. They deploy a range of scams, from creating phony shops to implementing complex fraud plots.

For shoppers, staying informed about emerging scam techniques and preventive strategies paves the way for secure shopping online.

The Many Faces of ETSY Scams

Etsy scams can manifest in several forms, each designed to exploit the unwary shopper or seller. Common scams include:

  • Non-Delivery Scams: The seller takes your money but never ships the item, leaving you waiting for a package that will never arrive.
  • Counterfeit Goods: Replicas passed off as genuine handmade or vintage items, diluting the value of true craftsmanship.
  • Phishing Attempts: Targeting Etsy sellers, these scams aim to steal personal and financial information under the guise of legitimate Etsy communications.

What’s an Etsy Scam?

At its core, an Etsy scam involves setting up fake shops on the platform with the intent to defraud buyers by collecting cash and payment details. These scammers often masquerade as legitimate sellers, with well-crafted profiles and listings. However, the facade crumbles when they become unresponsive or unusually slow to respond to messages, a stark contrast to genuine sellers who typically maintain good communication with buyers.

The Evolution of Online Scams on Marketplaces

The sophistication and complexity of online scams have grown over time, making them increasingly difficult to detect. Scammers are now employing:

  • Artificial intelligence to perform faster actions and enhance spoofing techniques

  • Intricate triangulation fraud involving various e-commerce platforms and pilfered credit card details

  • Digital fingerprint manipulation, such as altering IP addresses and device details, to dodge detection

These tactics make it harder to identify and prevent online scams.

Concerned about scammers on Vinted, read our informative blogpost and learn how to protect yourself from Vinted Scams

Identifying Deceptive Etsy Shops

Etsy Scams - Illustration of a magnifying glass inspecting an Etsy shop profile

Although Etsy devotes considerable effort to maintain the platform’s security, it’s vital for shoppers to be able to identify deceptive shops.

The exact prevalence of scams on Etsy is hard to quantify, but with the platform’s growth, incidents of fraud have understandably increased. Reports from various consumer protection agencies highlight a general increase in online shopping scams, underscoring the importance of vigilance.

A common indicator of a potential Etsy scam are new sellers with bad reviews and minimal sales history, especially those with grammatical errors or oddly-phrased sentences in profiles and listings.

Another red flag is fake Etsy stores set up without follow-up shipping information after a sale, these are indicative of a fraudulent scheme.

Let’s examine these indicators in greater detail.

Red Flags in Shop Profiles

During your efforts to spot potential scammers on Etsy, shop profiles act as a rich source of information. Red flags include:

  • Out-of-focus profile images

  • Incomplete profiles lacking banner images, descriptions, announcements, or policies

  • Poor spelling and grammar

  • Vague or incomplete product descriptions

  • Tiny fonts or overly complicated descriptions used to hide important details

Be wary of these signs when evaluating fake Etsy shops on Etsy, as they might be a part of a larger fake store network.

A shop with a recent “On Etsy since” date, particularly if it features suspicious listings or lacks detailed shop information, should be treated with caution.

Analysing Sales History for Legitimacy

Examining the sales history of a shop can provide insights into its authenticity. Shops established on Etsy for a longer duration are generally less likely to be fraudulent. A higher number of sales combined with a shop’s longevity on Etsy suggests a more reputable and trustworthy seller.

However, new sellers with no buyer feedback or predominantly negative reviews and feedback might be inclined to sell counterfeit items for money, indicating a higher scam risk, unlike a legitimate seller.

The Risk of Newly Listed Items

Newly listed items catch the eye for many reasons: they might offer introductory prices, claim to be one-of-a-kind pieces, or simply stand out because they’re the latest additions to a seller’s store.

This novelty factor can sometimes overshadow the buyer’s usual caution, making it a fertile ground for scammers.

Why New Listings Can Be Risky

  • Lack of History: New listings mean there’s little to no customer feedback or seller history to rely on. Scammers often exploit this by setting up new shops, listing fake or non-existent items, and disappearing after making a few sales.
  • Pressure to Purchase: Scammers may create a sense of urgency around a new listing, suggesting that the item is in limited supply or that the special price is only available for a short time. This pressure tactic can lead to hasty purchases without proper vetting.

Signs of a Potentially Risky New Listing

  • Too-Good-To-Be-True Prices: If the price seems significantly lower than similar items on Etsy, it could be a red flag.
  • Generic or Stock Photos: Authentic sellers typically use their own photos. If the images look generic or you’ve seen them elsewhere, proceed with caution.
  • Vague Descriptions: Legitimate sellers are usually proud of their work and provide detailed descriptions. Scammers often use vague or generic language to cover a wide net of potential buyers.
  • Seller Unresponsiveness: A genuine seller is interested in their reputation and customer satisfaction. If a seller doesn’t respond to queries or is evasive, it’s a warning sign.

While it’s worth considering new shops for vintage items on Etsy, shoppers must do their due diligence by examining the shop’s profile, the quality of images, and the information provided about the items listed. While the thrill of discovering newly listed items on Etsy can be part of the platform’s charm, it’s essential to approach these finds with a measured dose of skepticism.

Defend against scammers on eBay, learn how to spot fraudsters and protect yourself by reading our informative Blogpost.

Recognising Fraudulent Listings and Sellers

Photo of a person conducting a reverse image search on a laptop - Etsy Scams

The ability to identify fraudulent listings and sellers is of utmost importance. Spotting counterfeit products and noticing pricing discrepancies across shops can save you from falling into a scammer’s trap. Scammers often list the same product in different Etsy shops for vastly different prices as a deceptive tactic to exploit buyers.

Let’s explore these tactics in greater depth.

Spotting Counterfeit Products

Counterfeit products can creep into the listings of even the most eagle-eyed shoppers. They often have professional studio-style product photos that seem like stock images, suggesting that the scammer might not possess the actual item. If you notice significantly lower prices than the general market value, it may signal potential counterfeit products on Etsy.

A handy tool to use in such cases is a reverse image search. Using platforms like Tineye can help identify stolen product images used by a scammer on Etsy.

Pricing Discrepancies Across Shops

Pricing discrepancies with other stores can be a signal of potential fraud. Scammers may list identical products in different Etsy shops at varying prices, creating a false sense of urgency or confusion.

To ensure the legitimacy of a product, you can perform a reverse image search of the listing’s photo to find out if the same item is available at a lower price elsewhere or if it has been associated with previous scam reports in the search results.

Protecting Your Etsy Account and Personal Information

Illustration of secure password protection for Etsy account

As a shopper on Etsy, it’s crucial to safeguard both your own store account credentials and personal details. Using robust passwords, monitoring for unusual activities, and avoiding phishing scams are some of the ways to protect your store account.

Let’s take a closer look at these security measures.

Safeguarding Your Etsy Password

Your Etsy password serves as your primary line of protection. It’s crucial to create a password with a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessable information as your password such as your username, previous passwords, or personal information.

Changing your password regularly can also help maintain account security and lessen the risk of unauthorised access.

Preventing Unauthorised Account Access

It’s essential to prevent unsanctioned access to your Etsy account. Two-factor authentication, which requires a password and a verification code, provides an additional layer of security against unauthorised access.

Regular monitoring of sign-in history is also crucial to spot any unauthorised account access on Etsy; Etsy immediately advises taking action on unfamiliar sessions.

Avoiding Phishing Scams

Beware of phishing scams, which often come in the form of suspicious emails and messages. Phishing attempts using Etsy include messages with links to fake websites that imitate Etsy’s design. These are designed to steal personal and financial information, often accompanied by fake Etsy screenshots or suspicious emails.

Always sign in through the official site for online accounts actions.

Learn how to spot phishing emails in 2024, read our informative blogpost and stay safe from scammers.

Safe Payment Practices on Etsy

Illustration of safe payment transaction on Etsy platform

It’s advisable to adhere to the official Etsy platform when making payments. This ensures that you and the sellers utilise Etsy’s payment system, adhering to Etsy’s protection policies for any disputes or issues.

Let’s analyse these practices in more detail.

Why You Should Never Pay Outside of Etsy

Paying outside of Etsy’s platform exposes buyers to the risk of fraud and makes it difficult to resolve disputes. Off-platform payment scams may lure sellers with promises of discounts or faster payments, but without Etsy’s protective measures, the seller risks losing money after receiving no payment or less money after encountering fraudulent buyer chargebacks.

Monitoring Credit Card Statements for Fraud

Regularly reviewing credit card statements can help Etsy buyers quickly identify and dispute unauthorised charges stemming from compromised Etsy accounts. In case of discrepancies found in credit card statements related to Etsy purchases, buyers should report unauthorised charges to both Etsy and their credit card issuer promptly.

How to Handle Suspicious Activity and Report Scams

It’s crucial to report any suspicious activities that you may come across. Etsy has a site-wide reporting tool to report any listings that include your private information or seem suspicious. You should also engage with your credit card company in case of unauthorised charges.

Reporting Scams to Etsy Support

Reporting a suspicious message on Etsy is easy. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to your account and messages.

  2. Select the message.

  3. Choose ‘Mark as Spam.’

  4. The message will be moved to the Spam folder and reported to Etsy.

This action will help ensure the safety of your inbox.

Engaging with Your Credit Card Company

In case of unauthorised charges on your card, report it to your bank as soon as they are noticed, even if the charge is claimed to be from an Etsy shop. When disputing fraudulent charges relating to Etsy and a suspected scammer, provide your financial institution or credit card company with specific transaction details and evidence of the fraud.

Buyer Beware: Common Tactics Used by Etsy Scammers

Familiarising yourself with prevalent Etsy scam strategies can prevent you from becoming a target. Tactics like bait-and-switch and misleading shipping confirmation emails are prevalent on Etsy.

Let’s explore these tactics in greater depth.

The Bait-and-Switch Tactic

The bait-and-switch tactic involves scammers advertising one product but shipping something cheaper or significantly more money for an inferior product. If you notice listings where the price is significantly lower than other shops for no clear reason, this could be a tactic to attract buyers to fraudulent listings.

Misleading Shipping Confirmation Emails

Scammers may provide fake Etsy screenshots and follow-up messages that appear to confirm shipping issues or problems as part of the scam. They might use fake or stolen tracking numbers to create false evidence that items were delivered, complicating the buyer’s ability to get a refund.

Empowering Shoppers Against Etsy Scams

Equipping yourself with appropriate tools and knowledge can fortify your defences against Etsy scams. Using reputable antivirus software when exploring external websites linked in Etsy listings and performing a reverse image search can help you stay safe.

Let’s take a closer look at these security measures.

Using Antivirus Software for Extra Security

Antivirus software can be a valuable ally in your fight against scams. It can prevent, detect, and remove known viruses and malware on your device, protecting your personal information during online shopping.

Antivirus software can also detect if a website has hidden malware and prevent you from accessing potentially infected sites.

The Power of Reverse Image Search

Reverse image search is a powerful tool in the hands of savvy shoppers. It allows you to search the internet using an image to find where it appears online. If a reverse image search reveals that a product image from an Etsy listing appears on multiple unrelated sites, it may indicate that the image has been stolen and could be part of a scam listing.

Tips for Sellers to Prevent Scams

New sellers and those listing high-priced items on Etsy can be prime targets for scammers, who may reach out under false pretences requesting email contact information for orders.

Let’s take a closer look at these security measures.

Setting Up Strong Seller Protections

For high-value orders, it’s recommended that sellers use shipping methods with tracking, insurance, and signature confirmation to enhance security, and double-check the shipping address for accuracy. Additionally, sending a shipping confirmation email can keep the customer informed about their order status.

Following Etsy’s Terms of Use, which mandate that all sales go through Etsy Payments, is crucial for maintaining selling privileges on the platform.


Navigating Etsy safely requires a keen eye, awareness, and the right tools. By understanding the nature of Etsy scams, identifying deceptive shops, recognising fraudulent listings, protecting your account, practicing safe payment methods, and knowing how to handle suspicious activity, you can shop with confidence on Etsy. Remember, being a savvy shopper is your best defence against Etsy scams. Stay vigilant, stay safe!

Frequently Asked Questions

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

To avoid being scammed on Etsy, look for sellers with stellar feedback, a solid return policy, and quick shipping times. It’s also crucial to watch out for red flags such as new sellers, high value items, odd language, requests to take the conversation off Etsy, and links to external websites.

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

To tell if someone is scamming you on Etsy, look out for these warning signs:
Unrealistically Low Prices: If an item’s price is significantly lower than similar products on Etsy, it may be a scam.
Poor Quality Photos or Use of Stock Images: Legitimate sellers usually provide clear, high-quality photos of their products. Scammers often use stock images or low-quality photos.
Limited or No Seller Reviews: A seller with few or no reviews, especially if their shop is new, might be a red flag. While everyone starts somewhere, complete lack of feedback is concerning.
Generic Product Descriptions: Scammers typically use vague or copied product descriptions. Authentic sellers often provide detailed and specific information about their items.

Will Etsy refund me if scammed?

Yes, Etsy will provide a full refund if the item you ordered never arrives, arrives late, arrives damaged, or does not match the seller or listing description. However, whether you qualify for an Etsy scams refund is dependent on following the recommended process, which includes: Open a case with Etsy and use Etsy’s purchase protection programme.
You should also:
Act Quickly: Most platforms and payment providers have strict timelines for when a dispute or chargeback can be filed.
Keep Records: Save all correspondence with the seller and any documentation of the transaction and the problem (e.g., screenshots, product descriptions, tracking numbers).
Understand Policies: Familiarise yourself with Etsy’s policies, as well as those of your payment provider, to ensure you follow the correct procedure for seeking a refund.

Are messages from Etsy staff legit?

If you receive a message from someone claiming to be from Etsy, make sure to check the message for the verified icon. If it’s a message the icon is not there, mark the message as spam and do not reply.

What is an Etsy scam?

An Etsy scam involves fraudsters creating fake shops on the platform to deceive buyers and collect payment information.

What is a bait-and-switch tactic?

A bait-and-switch tactic involves advertising one product and then shipping something cheaper or significantly inferior. It is often used by scammers to deceive customers.

How do I know if an Etsy seller is legit?

To determine if an Etsy seller is legit, check their shop for overall ratings, read customer reviews, and consider the number of sales they’ve completed. Look for detailed product descriptions and clear, high-quality photos of their items. Pay attention to their shop policies on shipping, returns, and exchanges. Engage with the seller by asking questions about their products to gauge their responsiveness and professionalism. Finally, review their profile for information about their business, experience, and any social media links to assess their credibility further.

Useful Informative Reference Websites

  1. Action Fraud
    • The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you can report scams and find advice on fraud prevention.
  2. Citizens Advice
    • Offers comprehensive guidance on consumer rights, including what to do if you’ve been scammed online.
  3. The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
    • Offers resources on intellectual property rights and how to report counterfeit goods, relevant for cases of counterfeit goods on Etsy.
  4. Trading Standards
    • Provides advice on consumer rights and how to report businesses or sellers not complying with UK laws, including fraudulent online sellers.
  5. UK Finance
    • Provides information on fraud prevention and what to do if you’ve been affected by online fraud.
  6. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
    • Offers resources for identifying financial scams and reporting unauthorised firms.
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With over three decades of experience in the heart of London’s financial sector, I have dedicated my career to the pursuit of robust cybersecurity practices and IT leadership. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

My journey in the field of cybersecurity has not only been about personal growth but also about sharing my insights with others. As an international speaker, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences worldwide, discussing the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age. My passion for knowledge sharing extends to my work as an author and blogger, where I delve into the complexities of cybersecurity, offering practical advice and thought leadership.

In my role as a CISO and Head of IT, I have overseen the development and implementation of comprehensive information security and IT strategies. My focus has always been on creating resilient systems capable of withstanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

My Master’s degree in Cybersecurity has provided a solid academic foundation, which, when combined with my practical experience, allows me to approach cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

I am always open to connecting with other professionals in the field, sharing knowledge, and exploring new opportunities. Let’s secure the digital world together.