Is Etsy Legit? Things to Know to Avoid Etsy Scams

Marketplace Strategies
Is Etsy Legit? Things to Know to Avoid Etsy Scams

Is Etsy legit? When you're selling online, knowing who and what you can trust can be tricky. With so many e-commerce platforms out there and so much money on the line, it's essential to make sure that whatever platform you choose is legit. If you've been asking yourself whether Etsy is a reputable option for sellers, you're in luck. We'll go through all the details so that you can feel confident dodging any potential pitfalls of using this popular e-commerce site! 


We'll discuss what an Etsy scam looks like, tips on how to protect your store from scammers, and precautions new sellers should take before launching their first shop. Read on for more information about staying safe (and profitable!) as an Etsy seller!


A Guide to Understanding Etsy Policies, Etsy's Terms of Service, Shipping, and Returns/Refunds


As a seller or buyer on Etsy, it's important to understand the platform's policies clearly. Familiarizing yourself with Etsy's terms of service, shipping, and returns/refund policies can help you avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts down the line. Knowing what's expected of you as a seller or buyer can give you peace of mind and help you provide a positive experience for yourself and others. Let's review a few of Etsy's seller policies!


Purchase Protection Program for Sellers


Before we dive deep into the details of the purchase protection program, please keep in mind that this program is not an insurance policy, a warranty, or a guarantee of some sort. In its sole discretion, Etsy will decide if a transaction is granted protection under the Etsy Purchase Protection program. Now that we got that short disclaimer out of the way... assuming the seller has taken all of the necessary actions to ensure a good buyer experience, Etsy may refund buyers for orders totaling up to $250, which includes shipping and taxes, and sellers will not be held responsible. However, the program only applies to cases where the item does not arrive and/or disputes about listing accuracy. The program does not apply to cases of damaged items.


For the seller to be eligible for this program, these are the following requirements:


  • Make sure to use a valid tracking number and/or shipping label purchased through Etsy. If you are not using Etsy's Shipping Label, mark the order as shipped once it is sent out, and provide Etsy with a valid tracking number showing the order's route and delivery progress.

  • The sale transaction must be through Etsy's payment platform, Etsy Payments. PayPal transactions will automatically be disqualified.

  • The shipping address (final destination) must match what Etsy provided.

  • The order is packaged carefully to avoid damage in transit.

  • Make sure to include lead time in your listings and ship the order within the specified time. Your listing must also have an estimated delivery date, which includes delivery times and ZIP codes where necessary. Agreements made through Etsy Messages outside of the processing time you set will not count; we use the processing times you set to determine when to send out orders.

  • Ensure all of your shop policies are filled out, particularly those for returns, exchanges, and custom orders. Your shop policies must comply with Etsy's policies as well as local laws.

  • Your shop is in good standing and does not violate any of Etsy's policies.


If the total cost of the item (including shipping and taxes) is more than the $250 threshold, the seller is responsible for refunding the cost entirely. Etsy strongly recommends buying third-party insurance to cover any items that may be lost or damaged in transit.


Communicate Through Etsy's Messaging System


As an Etsy seller, it's essential to communicate with your customers about their orders exclusively through the platform's messaging system. Not only does this help keep all of your conversations in one place, but it also ensures Etsy has a thorough record of all interactions in case of any disputes or scams. In the unfortunate event that you do need to report a scam, having a clear and concise paper trail that Etsy can fully access will make the process much smoother and more efficient. 


Don't risk losing important information by communicating with customers outside of Etsy's platform – stick to the messaging system for a more secure and streamlined experience.


Asking for Personal Information


As tempting as it may be to exchange personal information with potential buyers quickly, it is important to exercise caution when communicating with them outside of Etsy's messaging system. Scammers often use the guise of wanting to communicate more easily to obtain your phone number, email address or other personal details. This can put you at risk of fraud and identity theft. 


Always keep your personal information private unless it is necessary for the transaction at hand. Etsy's messaging system ensures a safe and secure means of communication with buyers, so make sure to utilize it to prevent any risks associated with sharing personal information.


Want to crosslist to Etsy? Sign up for Vendoo for FREE today!


Suspicious Messages and Links


In today's digital age, scammers are finding more sophisticated ways to deceive unsuspecting victims. One common tactic is to send a link to potential victims, claiming it leads to a product or service they're interested in purchasing. However, this link is actually a gateway for malware that can infect your computer with harmful viruses or lead you to a phishing site where your personal information can be stolen. It's important always to be cautious when clicking on links and to verify the legitimacy of the source before entering personal information.





Don't Make or Take Payments Outside of Etsy


If you’re an Etsy seller, it’s important to know that making or taking payments outside of the platform is not only a violation of Etsy’s Terms of Service, but also leaves you without the protection of the platform. While it can be tempting to save on fees or avoid certain limitations, remember that checks can bounce, cash can be fraudulent, and PayPal (Venmo and CashApp) may even facilitate chargebacks. 


Always keep in mind that the benefits of sticking to trusted platforms far outweigh the short-term advantages of circumventing them. If you hear the dreaded words "Western Union," unless it's an international order, it's best to steer clear. Protect yourself and your business by staying strictly within Etsy’s guidelines.


Shipping To a Different Address


When it comes to shipping orders, it's always best to exercise caution if someone asks you to ship to a different address. While it could be a simple mistake, it's important to be aware that there are potential scams at play. Some people might be drop shippers looking to make a profit off your items, while others may be running a return or refund scam. 


Be wary of those who use fake addresses or make it difficult for you to ship to their correct location. Additionally, sellers who suddenly request an address change after shipment should also raise red flags. At the end of the day, it's always best to use your discretion.


Avoid Underpayment, Overpayment, or Partial Payment Plans


As an Etsy seller, it's always exciting to make a sale! However, you must be cautious when it comes to payment plans. Be wary of any offers for underpayment, overpayment or partial payment plans from potential buyers. These can make you vulnerable to scams and financial losses. Additionally, you should be mindful of customers who suggest making multiple payments for a single product or breaking up payments - these can be deceptive and lead to you receiving less money than anticipated. It is important to double-check all payment arrangements in order to guarantee that you are getting a fair deal.


Double-Check The Tracking Number


It is vital to keep records of all your shipping labels and tracking numbers (using PirateShip and Etsy Shipping makes this simple). If you have a buyer who claims they have not received your product, check the tracking to see if a delivery was made - if it has been delivered, then make sure that the buyer/seller has confirmed the shipment address. In such a case, getting a refund relies on the mail carrier service - USPS, FedEx, UPS or DHL. You will need to file a claim with the appropriate mail carrier - if it is found out that this was an honest mistake, then everything should be resolved through them. On the other hand, if someone is caught scamming you, report the buyer's name and address to the carrier so they can add that address to their "do not deliver" list. Also, report the buyer to Etsy as well so they can suspend that account/IP address.


Fake Charities


It is not unusual to be asked for free products to use for charity events. However, you should never feel obligated to donate just because someone has asked. Unfortunately, there are people who try to scam others by posing as charity representatives. If you receive such a request on Etsy, politely inform them that you have commitments to local charities and have already set your budget. If the request is authentic, they will understand, and you can avoid those trying to take advantage of you.


Glowing Reviews From Fake Influencers


t is common for influencers, content creators, and bloggers to reach out for free products in exchange for reviews. While this may appear like a good deal, you should be wary of sending merchandise without proper reason. If someone does make such a request, take note of their social media engagement - not the number of followers, but rather the level of interaction with their audience. For example, if someone has ten million followers but receives very few comments on each post, it is unwise to provide them with free merchandise as they may have fake followers or their followers lack interest.


However, if you verify the person's identity and can guarantee that it is actually them, then offer them a discount code and explain about Etsy's affiliate program to earn referral income through promoting your product to their audience. This arrangement should be perfectly understandable to any legitimate influencer.


You might also like: 10 Great Marketplaces Every Reseller Should Consider


The Additional Item Trick


As an online seller, it is understandable to want to make your customers happy, but there are certain requests that should be approached with caution. One such request is when a customer asks to include an expensive gift card or additional products in their order and offers to repay you later through Venmo, Cashapp or Zelle. While the idea might seem appealing, it is important to remember that repayment is not guaranteed. Even if an agreement is made through the Etsy messaging system, repayment for a sale outside of the platform goes against Etsy's terms of service.


Vendoo supports 11 marketplaces! Start maximizing sales and crosslisting today!

Sign Up For Vendoo!


Unwillingness to Return Items


Scammers are always on the lookout for easy targets, and unfortunately, online shoppers are often their prey. One of the biggest frustrations when dealing with scammers is their reluctance to return damaged or not as described items. To complicate matters even further, some scammers will claim that the item was damaged in transit to avoid returning it altogether. The best defense against such malicious practices is to be vigilant about documenting the condition of the item before shipping it out. Additionally, make it a requirement that the scammer provides proof of the returned item before issuing a refund. By following these simple guidelines, you can protect yourself from falling victim to scammers who refuse to honor their end of the bargain.


In conclusion, while there may be some scams and fraudulent behavior present on Etsy, it is a legitimate platform for buying and selling unique handmade or vintage items. To avoid falling victim to scams on Etsy, it is crucial to be aware of the various warning signs and red flags discussed in this article. Familiarizing oneself with Etsy's policies, only communicating through the platform's messaging system, avoiding sharing personal information, and being cautious of suspicious messages and links are some of the critical steps that can help prevent scams. 


It is essential to use Etsy's secure payment and tracking options, avoid underpayment or overpayment plans, and beware of the additional item trick or fake charities, as well as influencers who are paid to write glowing reviews. Most importantly, if you encounter any problems, report them immediately, and don't hesitate to reach out to Etsy's customer support team. By taking these steps, you can have a safe and enjoyable selling experience on Etsy.


Are you an Etsy Seller? Is Etsy legit to you? Let us know in the comments!


You might also be interested in Top-Selling Items on Etsy in 2023


Vendoo Subscribe Blog!