MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – With the prices for sports memorabilia rising, especially for authentic game-used or autographed items, the Better Business Bureau is reminding fans to be careful when searching for that new prized possession, especially when looking online.
The BBB warns to be weary of is watching out for items that are “game-used” as opposed to items that are “game-issued.” “Game-used” indicates that the item for sale was actually used or worn by the said sports players. Whereas “game-issued” refers to items that have been issued to athletes but never used. The “game-used” items are often very sought after and sell for a very high price point.
Another thing to be weary of is mass produced signatures. Autopens allow signatures to be duplicated numerous times. That is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the seller is upfront about the item being signed that way. However, some scammers will label an item as being “hand-signed” when it is actually a mass-produced signature. The BBB recommends looking closely and looking for the name of the person who allegedly gave the autograph.
The BBB says that the way these scams often work is that an online shopper may see a high quality looking item at a cheap price point after clicking on an add or doing a web search. After they go through the entire checkout process and hand over their card information, the buyer never ends up receiving the items they bought or, they receive much cheaper items that look nothing like they did in the online photos.
Here are the tips released from the BBB:
- If an item seems too good to be true, it probably is. If an item you are interested in seems of high value but is cheaply priced, there is a good possibility that this is a scam.
- Before you purchase the item, try to research the company beforehand. You can do this by looking for seller contact information or if the company has a social media presence. You can also check on the BBB website to see the company in question has a registered profile. Another good resource is to check out the BBS Scam Tracker, to see if anyone else flagged a scam related to this company.
- Avoid purchases where a money wire or a pre-paid debit card are required. This is often a favorite way for scammers to collect payments since once you pay this way, you can’t get your money back. Using a credit card and checking to make sure the website has a https:// address is best practice.
- Look over the Certificates of authenticity (COAs) very carefully. Items that are of high value almost always have one these, so many scammers will try to forge fake ones. When looking these over, you will want to make sure that the full and correct details are included, such as who the buyer is and if they are a reputable authority. Even with less expensive items it’s always a good rule of thumb to ask for one of these certificates.
- Take extra caution at charity auctions – Sometimes scammers will “donate” items to charity that are frauds. When at one of these auctions, be extra careful to pay attention to suspicious price points and authentications.
- Look for a money-back guarantee – If you can find a way to work with a dealer who can guarantee you a full refund if your item ends up being a fraud, this would be ideal. The last thing you’ll want to do is to look over all of the conditions and limitations of sales cover carefully,
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