A website where you're required to input personal information and pay someone else money is bound to get anyone's back up about whether it's a safe zone or a scam. We completely get that. But the truth is that Etsy is no less safe than any other of the other big online marketplace websites that millions of people trust, such as Amazon, eBay, and Ali Express.
In general, Etsy only shares certain information about you, and only to groups that are involved in making your experience on Etsy work. This information is transmitted securely, and its recipients are not allowed to use it for other purposes. Your financial information (for purchasing items) is stored with Etsy, and is never revealed to anyone who sells you anything on Etsy. Therefore, it is safe to submit your credit card details to make a purchase. You can also opt out of certain emails that Etsy sends you, and can block certain advertisements that Etsy displays.
Etsy also protects you in dealings with sellers on its website. If you ever enter a dispute with a seller on Etsy over something that they sold you, you can open a "case" and have Etsy try to resolve your problem. You can read more about Etsy Cases here.
Sure, part of being on Etsy is participating in the community and connecting with Etsy's sellers and other users. But that doesn't mean that you have to share everything about yourself on Etsy. All that's required to be on Etsy (as a buyer, at least) is your email address (which won't be revealed to anyone anyway) and your username. If you don't want to put extra information on your profile, such as your real name, your gender, your birthday, or where you live, you definitely don't have to. It's also probably not a good idea to post things like your credit card information, your Etsy account password, where you live/work, or anything else sensitive or embarrassing on any public place in Etsy, including your profile, your shop, or anything in Etsy's Community or Blog sections.
While viewing an item, click the Shipping and Policies tab. This will show you important information like when and how the item will be shipped, what kinds of payment the seller will accept, and the seller's policies on cancellations, exchanges, and returns and refunds. For example, a seller may have a strict "no returns" policy, or may charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your order after a certain time. If you have any further questions about the item, or the seller and their policies, click the Ask a Question button in the main information window, type in your message, and then click Submit.
Unfortunately, with the way Etsy groups reviews and ratings, it's difficult to find reviews and ratings on a specific item that you want to buy. However, Etsy does give you an average rating for a seller, based on the ratings and reviews of every product they sell. This should at least give you a clue as to whether a seller is trustworthy or not.
It's generally not a good idea to come to an arrangement with a seller outside of Etsy, in the rare instance that it may come up. At best, the seller is trying to avoid Etsy's fees for selling their items. At worst, the seller is actually a scam artist looking to swindle you out of money. Always make your payments for Etsy goods through Etsy, and never reveal any personal financial information to a seller.
If your item doesn't arrive on time, or it arrives and it isn't how you thought it would be (e.g. it's different than it was pictured, is broken, or has parts missing), the first thing you should do is directly contact the person who sold you the item. If you don't hear back from that person, or you can't satisfactorily resolve the issue with that person, you can contact Etsy within 60 days of the estimated delivery date of your item, and open a case against that person.
If the seller doesn't respond to or resolve your case within a week of it being opened, you can ask Etsy to review the case, and perhaps offer a refund on the seller's behalf. See our How to Contact Etsy tutorial (here) for instructions on how to get in touch with a seller -- or with Etsy, to open a case against a seller -- should you need to.
You might also want to contact your financial institution and at least let them know what's going on. Be careful, however: if you ask them to cancel a charge on your credit card because of a problem you're having with a seller on Etsy, Etsy will not allow you to open a case against that seller (or will close your case, if you've already opened one). Therefore, you should try to solve your issue through Etsy first, and only turn to your bank to solve it as a last resort.
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