With this guide, you’d be able to tell if an Etsy seller is legit to avoid getting scammed or buying replica items sold as the original.
Many independent businesses own shops on Etsy, and owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs make up the majority of the sellers. Meanwhile, Etsy rules are followed by most sellers, but unsuspecting buyers could still be cheated by unscrupulous sellers.
Usually, you get in touch with the seller if you feel there is an issue with your purchase, or contact Etsy to fix any issue.
How to tell if an Etsy seller is legit
Even though Etsy offers protection for both buyers and sellers, it’s somehow not enough. Thus, you must know how to tell if an Etsy seller is legit.
1. Check the seller’s profile review
Customer reviews play a huge part when it comes to a seller’s reputation. You should check the customers’ reviews of the seller to tell if they are legit.
For every product listed on Etsy, buyers read the reviews and can see the star ratings, which indicate how other consumers perceive the seller before buying their product. You should avoid vendors with less than 3-star ratings, followed by negative reviews. Most legit sellers will have decent ratings and more positive reviews.
Check the store review as well as the specific product review by going through what other buyers have to say. If the seller is dubious, you should notice multiple negative reviews, typically with a one-star rating.
Profiles with more positive buyer reviews are the ones you should go for. Make sure to also go through the negative reviews, even though some of them may be unfounded. Do have in mind that even the positive reviews could be faked.
Consider avoiding a particular seller when too many buyers complain about their products being broken or if refunds are not offered, although the seller’s listing and shop policy say they make refunds.
Positive reviews that are written in broken English and with profile names that look fake, typically with no profile picture could be signs that the seller is not legit.
Fake reviews could be written by the sellers themselves or by dedicated, paid agencies. Just pay attention to the writing styles of each review. To get a more balanced picture of the reviews, check the most recent reviews.
2. Scrutinize product descriptions
You can determine a fake Etsy seller by carefully scrutinizing the product descriptions. Ensure to ask for clarification from the Etsy seller if you find the product details or description unclear.
Go through the description of products that are made out of special materials or part of an antique collection, that should help your decision.
If you’re looking for vintage items, the description is likely to tell you about any defects. A vintage item is likely to be a replica and not the original piece if it comes in a brand-new look. It is also fake if the description contains terms like “imitation”, “replica” or “inspired by”.
3. Watch out for too-good-to-be-true prices
Handmade items are not as cheap, even on Etsy. If you notice handmade products listed at very low prices, there is a high chance that the seller is not legit or the items are replicas of an original.
Search Etsy to find out whether the item is being resold. Insincere sellers can go against Etsy’s terms of service by photoshopping the picture uploaded by the original company and reusing it.
You should report any reseller shops to support genuine sellers of handcrafted items on Etsy.
4. Look for licenses and certifications
To tell if an Etsy seller is legit, check the licenses of products being listed. Nevertheless, a certificate does not guarantee the legitimacy of every single product on the platform. This factor only comes into play if you are buying a specific brand from an Etsy vendor.
Check for licenses to know whether an Etsy seller is licensed to sell a particular brand of items. That said, vendors can sell branded items without strictly having a license.
So, make sure you go through the description of the store to check if they mention the items as legitimate or replicas. If the seller lists the item as a replica, do not buy it. Most sellers never bother listing as replicas or fakes, so there’ll be no way to tell until the item is shipped to you.
5. Choose a reliable payment method
Payment solutions like credit/debit cards and PayPal are offered on Etsy as payment methods. PayPal offers a high level of security and gives refunds in the event of a dispute, which makes it safer for buyers. Don’t use Zelle or Venmo, these payment platforms operate like bank accounts, so in the case of a dispute, you won’t get your money back. As you can see here, you can’t cancel a payment once it’s sent to the recipient.
Also, it’s a red flag if a seller offers no refund. This is not to say that every seller not offering a refund is not legit.
Depending on the product, a vendor can be forced to make a refund by Etsy. So, you can get in touch with Etsy if you think that you have been scammed by an unscrupulous vendor.
6. Follow Etsy community suggestions
Usually, I follow the Etsy community https://community.etsy.com/t5/Etsy-Forums/ct-p/forums for helpful buyer/seller advice and to ask questions whenever there’s suspicion about a transaction.
You can search the forums for existing answers to your query, as they’ve most likely been asked and answered by the community already.
Never disclose your personal information, including bank details and residential addresses on public forums (irrespective of the reason).
7. Communicate with the seller
Direct communication with the seller is important on the Etsy platform. Leverage how long it takes a seller to respond when you ask questions about specific products to know if they mean business. If they do not respond timely, it could be a sign that the Etsy seller is not legit.
Buyers typically feel more confident about purchasing a product when the seller replies to messages early and in a friendly manner.
8. Read the seller’s policies
With regards to exchanges, every seller on the Etsy platform has their own policies. Find out if they are willing to offer returns or refunds on products before you purchase them. Note that even some legit Etsy sellers do not offer refunds, and this depends on the listing.
When you’re not satisfied with an item, a legit vendor will typically follow their shop policy or the policy stated in the listing, which requires them to make or refuse refunds, or allow the customer to cancel items.
Vendors selling products that enable them to easily offer returns on them but refuse to do so could be untrustworthy.
Refunds are not offered in every product category on Etsy. A diverse range of products, including food products and intimate items may not have refundable policies.
9. Do a reverse image search
Find out if a vendor is selling an original product on Etsy using the reverse image search. Tools like Google Image (available on your app store) or Yahoo Image can be used to run a reverse image search. Even Google Chrome allows you to search for an image. Just long-press the image and then select “Search with Google Lens”.
A reverse image search helps you to know if a seller downloaded an image from the internet or made a unique product image themselves. Usually, items with images downloaded from the internet are a sign that the seller could be selling fakes. Thus, the Etsy seller is not legit.
To conduct a reverse image search, just download the Etsy product image and reverse search tool. Select the downloaded Etsy image and the tool will search the web for similar images. If you find similar images, the Etsy item is questionable.
You now have a clear idea about the things to look out for when looking out for legit sellers on Etsy. Etsy policies protect buyers from scams but this does not mean you’ll get scammed in the slightest.
Many of the sellers are legit but like any platform like Etsy, you need to watch out for dropshippers, resellers, and scammers. While scammers are after your money, dropshippers and resellers are usually out to make specific items cost more since they ship directly from the seller to your doorstep. That also makes them come after your money illegally.