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How to shop safely on Etsy

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Jun 29, 2016

Etsy, an arts and crafts eBay with soul, has been around since 2005.

Its 1.5 million active sellers flog anything from handmade jewellery and clothing to vintage wedding dresses.

But, as with any peer-to-peer site, there are a host of pitfalls shoppers need to navigate. 

Hidden among the chic, artsy sellers are scam artists looking to rob you of your cash.

We heard from one user, David Roberts, who claims he bought a fake gold chain for £300 – and failed to get his money back.

“I’m not happy,” David said, “I sent messages to Etsy and they kept fobbing me off.”


So how do you stay safe when shopping on Etsy?

1. Does the offer look too good to be true?

Sadly, if the item and the price look too good to be true, it probably is.

So you know that diamond necklace worn by Victoria Beckham? The one on sale for £9.99? One to avoid.

Trust your instincts and don’t risk losing your money.


2. Only pay through secure methods

Etsy offers the option to pay through PayPal or its own Direct Checkout service.

The rule to remember is: never transfer money direct to the seller.

PayPal and Direct Checkout give you extra protection when things go wrong. You get access to proper fraud investigation teams and you are far more likely to get your money back.


Top Tip: Every PayPal account has to be connected to an active email account. Make sure the PayPal account of the seller belongs to the user you’re chatting to. Alarm bells should start ringing if the user insists on using the PayPal of a third party.


3. Is the Etsy seller legit? Here's how to make sure

It always pays to make sure you are buying from a legitimate seller, and not a scam artist.

Always check their reviews. If there are a host of negative comments, it’s probably best to avoid.

Watch out for a suspiciously squeaky clean profile – con men can set up and close accounts very quickly on sites like Etsy.

It’s also best to steer clear if the seller often leaves negative feedback about buyers.

You can also ask the seller probing questions on Etsy chat that might smoke out a scammer. Here are a few to try:

Can I see related warranties or documents for the product I am buying?

Why are you selling the product?

How often has the product been used?

How old is the product?


4. Look out for scams

There are simply too many scams on the internet to run through here. 

But one classic swindle to watch out for is a seller requesting far more money than is needed to 'speed up shipping' or cover other 'costs'.

If the seller keeps upping the original price, you should be on your guard and be ready to back out of the deal. 

You should also watch out for fake emails pretending to be from Etsy and PayPal. If you're in any doubt, forward the dodgy email on to [email protected] and they can confirm whether it's real or not. 

Etsy scams will be similar in appearance to those on eBay – here are seven common ones to watch out for.


5. Keep your account secure

Fairly obvious one, but regularly changing your password will help prevent someone gaining access to your account and making fraudulent purchases.

Make sure your password is complex and includes numbers, letters and capitals.


The general consensus on Etsy - from forums and user comments - is that it's fairly safe to shop on.

If you do get caught out, and need to make a complaint, get in touch with A Spokesman Said.

And there’s plenty of information on how to get your money back.


A Spokesman Said offers price comparison in energy, insurance and broadband that could save you hundreds.