With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaching this month, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising consumers that the value of most memorabilia and commemorative items is sentimental. Prices for many items likely will drop over time.
Patriotic websites are promoting magnets, pins, flags, clothing, license tags, license frames and jewelry, among other items as a way to mark the anniversary. Sellers also are marketing commemorative items on auction sites like eBay, where the seller must rely on emailed questions and online photos to determine an item’s value.
Many of these items are mass-produced by the millions. Because the value of collectibles is largely dependent on how rare an item is, mass-produced commemorative items are not likely to appreciate in value.
Collectibles associated with the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, may be selling at a premium right now, but most of these items will not increase in value in the future. If you want to show your patriotism by displaying a flag or wearing a lapel pin, that’s one thing. But if you think you can make lots of money by buying these items and reselling them, you may be disappointed.
If you are interested in buying items to remind you of the Sept. 11 tragedy, the BBB offers the following advice:
- Get educated. Collectors need to research the value of items before they begin purchasing them, especially if they want pieces with the potential for substantial appreciation in value.
- Confirm authenticity. Autographs can be verified by a third party, but for other items, the collector should feel free to ask the seller questions about the item, including how the seller came to own it. If the seller can’t answer simple questions, then the collector should walk away.
- Make purchases with a credit card. Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
- Purchase items from a reputable seller. When shopping online stores, collectors should look for the BBB seal on Web sites and click on the seal to confirm its legitimacy. If there isn’t a BBB seal on the site, shoppers should always check a company’s BBB business review at www.bbb.org
- Do your research. When purchasing items from an individual on eBay, research the seller’s track record by reading buyer reviews. When shopping on Craigslist, go local and never wire money as payment.
- Don’t be fooled by empty advertising claims. Just because the seller claims that the item is of limited edition, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t millions made. If the item is being widely advertised, chances are it’s too common to actually gain much value over the years.
For more BBB advice on shopping safely, go to www.bbb.org