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Insider Updates

Etsy Scams: April 2024 Update + Staying Safe


Back in late 2022 I wrote a post about a particular con that was proliferating on Etsy that had to do with scammers diverting customers away from Etsy to their own fake websites for the suspected intent of harvesting customer data while under the guise of selling copyright and trademarked digital graphics. 

Thankfully, Etsy seems to have finally managed to get this particular ruse more or less under control.

Unfortunately, Etsy accounts continued to be taken over by 'hackers'. Most of the affected accounts are shops that aren't currently active allowing for the hackers to get up to mischief using the account without the original shop owner noticing for quite some time.

This particular problem has been going on for a few years but ramped up more significantly in 2022-2023.

Etsy is finally taking some action to protect the platform and sellers from this by setting a time-frame for closing inactive shop accounts. But only for shops that have been inactive for 4+ years - and by inactive they are referring to whether the account has been logged into or not. Personally I think they should be a bit more robust with this given that cyber crimes are rising exponentially.

My advice for anyone who has paused their Etsy shop for any length of time would be to keep a close eye on it. And everyone should ensure that they are using strong passwords as well as the two factor authentication option. Because Etsy has been a security risk of late I've made sure to use a unique password for my account, one that is not used anywhere else. (a lot of 'hacked' shops were likely accessed through stolen data via scams such as that mentioned above)

If you've been paying any attention at all you're probably also aware of the mass proliferation of scam messages being sent through Etsy's internal convo system. Because this internal messaging system is not setup with the same robust programming as actual email it was a very soft target that has had a huge impact on unsuspecting sellers.

Scammers are still targeting new seller accounts pretending to be Etsy asking for account verifcation. I'm not going to go into all the details of each version this has propagated as there are just too many. You can find very specific details in the Etsy forum simply by searching for the word 'scam'. How this generally works though is that the scammer, pretending to be Etsy, scares the brand new shop owner into thinking there is a problem or that they need to take a particular action to keep their account open. They direct the seller off of Etsy through cleverly cloaked pages and one way or another convince the seller to willingly hand over money on the basis of a verification process.

So many people have come forward admitting to be caught out by this and being taken for hundreds of dollars. It's both sad and scary. A terrible lesson to learn the hard way and probably devastating for those affected.

Etsy has been taking measures to slow the scammers down although they have yet to eliminate the problem altogether. While it did take them longer than anyone would have liked to proactively deal with the situation, they are currently testing several measures to assist sellers in identifying scam messages, while also dealing with the scammers directly.

One of the more useful changes Etsy has made to help us out is to label messages that are coming from a buyer account - a message pretending to be Etsy labelled as "from a buyer" is therefore obviously a scam. They are also ensuring that any legit messages from Etsy can be cross referenced for authenticity by looking for it in the new 'From Etsy' folder in your message portal via the website (it's not currently available via the app).

There are two key pieces of advice for anyone unsure of the messages coming into their Etsy inbox. The first is - don't panic! This is exactly what the scammers are trying to get you to do so that you make poor decisions without thinking things through. Press pause on your reactions to any message and stop to think it through, nothing is going to blowup on you in the 10 minutes it might take for you to assess the situation!

The second piece of advice is this... no platform, anywhere, regardless of what it is, will have you go off their site to complete any actions. Any requirements you might need to take for verification or otherwise will be shown directly in your account dashboard right on the site in question. Etsy is no different in this regard than any other platform - this is standard security. If you get a message about a problem with an order - go to the order tab in your account - if there is legitimately a problem it WILL show up there.

This is the same for any banking or identity verification - on any site - that request will appear right in your account dashboard. If it doesn't, it's most likely not real. If ever a platform is using a third party (Etsy uses third parties for the actual verification process) that information will be provided in your account dashboard. It will not be a surprise! And it will be integrated into the site's pages directly, not sent via a message where you click a link to somewhere else.

ALWAYS check inside your account for information to verify the validity of the request.

And if you are still confused or worried, reach out in a forum to ask others for input :)

Stay safe

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