No, I’m not yet ready for football season…but I’ve got a friend who’s already organizing his fantasy team for this fall. Since the same friend is moving into a new condo with all his sports memorabilia, it made me think about the many counterfeit helmets, jerseys and autographed footballs floating around.
Getting expensive merchandise for less always sounds good at first, so what’s bad about this stuff? Well, you generally do get what you pay for, but with bootlegged items, you don’t get what you pay for. Fakers use the name of the team or players you love to rip people off. And counterfeits are almost always cheaply made, which means they won’t last as long as the real thing.
A post on the 2012 French Open commented that a certain brick-and-mortar sports memorabilia store in that person’s town had bootleg NFL and Major League Baseball jerseys for sale. But the framed jerseys weren’t even completed – if you bought one and took it out of the frame, you’d find yourself with only the front half of a jersey. (If this happened to you with a legitimate business, you could always complain to the BBB and we would try to get it resolved for you.)
But you could have an even bigger problem if you buy fake sports memorabilia online. Several BBBs around the country have reported websites that don’t have any merchandise to sell you – they just want your credit card number and personal information in order to steal your identity or drain your bank account.
Tickets for the big game, which can cost thousands of dollars, can be an even bigger rip-off. In 2011, thousands of Super Bowl tickets were offered on Craigslist. While I personally have purchased musical tickets from strangers on the site with no problem, you should know that Craigslist site offers no guarantees and does not require identification of its listers. Be cautious. Unfortunately, it has gotten easier and easier for scammers to make fake tickets that look real. (Sites such as Stub Hub guarantee your tickets’ authenticity. Ticketmaster handles ticket exchanges for the NFL.)
In general, avoid scams by being wary of:
• Offers that sound too good to be true
• Pushy sales tactics
• Poor quality of merchandise
• Offers that require wire transfer of funds
And always check out businesses at www.bbb.org/search.
Previously published in the Spokane-Spokesman Review.