Etsy has been in the news after reports surfaced that up to 5% of goods sold on the online “handmade” marketplace are counterfeits or flaunt copyright restrictions. While other online retailers such as Ebay and especially Alibaba have been dogged by similar allegations for years, it was a surprise to many that Etsy has also potentially fallen victim to counterfeiters looking to exploit online buyers.
While there is no foolproof way to avoid buying a counterfeit item through an e-commerce marketplace, there are a few practical steps one can take to reduce the risk of buying a fake online.
Go Direct for Expensive and Luxury items
Etsy is great for unique, handmade items, while Amazon excels at selling everything from movies, books and everyday household items. But for more expensive items like luxury handbags and watches, it makes sense to deal with the brand you are seeking directly, either online or at one of their storefront locations. You can buy your item with a store receipt and many items often come with certificates of authenticity.
Deal Only with Reputable Second-Hand Resellers
A little research will reveal second-hand sellers with expertise and trustworthy reputations in areas from antiques to rare books and memorabilia. Having a real storefront and repeat, happy customers are both good signs. Try to deal with only such resellers, many of whom will have online versions of their stores and can usually ship items to you if you don’t live in the store’s area.
Verify Sellers’ Identities Online
Sometimes your only bet may be to deal with an individual private seller. In these cases it makes sense to mitigate risk by confirming some essential details including the name and location of the seller you’re dealing with. While still presenting a risk, the seller’s willingness to disclose his or her identity and key identifiable details can provide at least a basic foundation for further discussion. Any resistance to such requests on the part of the seller should be met with extreme caution on the part of the buyer.
Use the above common steps to help avoid the pitfalls that come with so many counterfeit items being available for sale on major e-commerce platforms.