Thanksgiving weekend triggers the start to the holiday shopping season where everyone is looking for a special gift for their loved ones. With so many sports fans out there, autographed memorabilia is a hot seller every holiday season, but it is also the time of year where most buyers are taken advantage of unfortunately.
The people purchasing the memorabilia generally are not as aware of how much fraudulent memorabilia is actually in the market as serious memorabilia collectors are. They are also not as aware of what to look for and which companies to feel comfortable purchasing memorabilia from. These shoppers routinely look for the best deal and usually shop online which makes them a prime target for autograph forgers.
Imagine what your loved one would think if you gave them an item they knew was fake right away. I’ve seen it happen before and it is really a sad situation. So we want to help you with your holiday memorabilia purchases by educating you on what to look for when shopping for authentic memorabilia.
First let’s see how good you are. Can you pick out which items below were signed by the Upper Deck exclusive spokesman and which ones are forgeries? Take your time, and good luck!
Do you have a good feel for what is real and what is not? Let’s see how you did. If you said the first image was real you would be wrong. It is a forgery. In fact if you said any of these images were real you would be wrong. They are all items that have been forged and sold to unsuspecting customers. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Millions of dollars of fraudulent autographed memorabilia will likely be sold over this holiday season. Protect yourself by following these rules:
Rule #1 – Ask lots of questions
As you deal with sellers, it is important to know they are on the ball and legitimate. Asking questions is a good way to test if they are. Asking a lot of questions is a great way to try to catch them in a lie or see if they have trouble responding. Here is a list of good questions to ask sellers of autograph memorabilia about the items they are selling:
Were their witnesses at the signing of this item? – Sometimes companies will send items to athletes, but if they don’t actually witness them signing the items, how do you know they were really signed by the athlete? You don’t, and that’s a problem.
When and where did the athlete sign this item? – Any memorabilia seller should keep records of signings they witnessed. If they have trouble telling you, this should raise some red flags.
What type of certificate of authenticity does this item come with? – You want to purchase an item with a certificate of authenticity or COA from a very reputable company. Upper Deck Authenticated items traditionally sell for more than items from other companies because it is well known how much effort we put into documenting the authenticity of our collectibles. If you have a certificate of authenticity from Billly Bob’s Sports Memorabilia Headquarters, does that really mean much?
If I send this item to JSA or PSA for authentication and it doesn’t pass, what type of refunds would you offer? – JSA and PSA are two of the largest third-party autograph authentication companies. Just saying their names to the person you are purchasing the item from, should let them know you are aware of forgeries and are not going to be taken advantage of.
How long have you been in business? – This is a good question to gauge the level of expertise a seller has and to give you piece of mind if you are dealing with someone who is fly by night or who has been in business for awhile.
Do you offer any type of guarantees to the authenticity and quality of this memorabilia? – Again, it is critical to make sure you know that if there is a problem with authenticity, you can get your money back. What’s more, nowadays authenticity shouldn’t be your only concern. If the signing was conducted by an inexperienced company, they could have used pens that will cause the signature to fade over time or memorabilia that is not good quality. You want to make sure that if there is a problem outside of authenticity, you are covered too.
Rule #2 – Be careful on e-Bay
There is no doubt that e-Bay has become a fantastic way to shop, especially during the holidays. There is such a huge selection available on the site, you really can find almost anything there. Despite several actions e-Bay has taken to protect buyers, there is still the chance you can purchase something through an online auction site like e-Bay that is not authentic.
As with any important purchase, do your homework. Check the seller’s history to see how many sales they have completed, their feedback ratings for completed transactions and most importantly other completed sales they have for similar items. If people didn’t complain about something similar they are selling, that is a good sign. Also, reach out to them and ask questions as well. Some sellers don’t like responding to questions or do not respond in a timely fashion, but if you are going to spend in excess of $100 on a purchase, you had better do all you can to make sure you are getting the real deal.
A word of warning, because Upper Deck Authenticated items are generally perceived as the safest items to purchase in terms of authenticity, forgers are now using images of UDA memorabilia for their online sales. Make sure to ask what the hologram number on the piece is. You can contact us at (800)551-8220 to confirm that hologram number corresponds to the piece they are selling.
Rule #3 – Purchase from a retail store or directly from Upper Deck
You can get some great deals by purchasing online, but the problem is you cannot see the item. You can’t tell if there are defects to the framing or item like you could if you purchased it in person. Additionally, you really don’t know if that seller will be there for you if there is a problem. That makes visiting a retail store that specializes in selling autograph memorabilia a good idea. And with the sluggish economy, many of these hobby shops have great memorabilia items at great prices that are directly competitive with online retailers. Plus you don’t have to pay shipping! Check out some of our favorite hobby shops here.
Another great way to purchase is directly from Upper Deck. You have two great options there. One would be to stop into our retail store in Huntington Beach, California. This retail pilot store specializes in carrying all of our top memorabilia. Check it out! Also, you can make a holiday gift selection online direct through the Upper Deck online store.
Rule #4 – Work through a reputable manufacturer like Upper Deck Authenticated
There is a reason why Upper Deck Authenticated memorabilia is considered the world’s greatest memorabilia and that is because nobody works harder to make sure they are providing innovative, quality and authentic collectibles to their customers. Just check out this video on all we do to make sure our worldwide customers are getting the best collectibles in the market.
Rule #5 – Remember, if the deal looks to good to be true, it likely is
It is as simple as that. If someone is offering you a Tiger Woods signed hat for $75, there is a real problem there. Authentic signed Tiger Woods items just do not sell for that low. Don’t be afraid to pass up deals that seem too good to be true because in all likelihood, they are.
Follow these rules and this holiday season, you’ll be thankful you didn’t give a loved one something that wasn’t the real deal.