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Real or Fake? How to Spot Replica Collectible Cards

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As is the case in any realm of the world of collectible memorabilia, sports cards are often counterfeited. Whether you’re looking for rare sports cards for your personal collection or shopping for a friend or family member that collects, you don’t want to buy what you think is the “real deal” only to find out you’ve been duped. Scammers (as they’re known in the collectors’ world) are good at what they do. Some of them have managed to go for years, make thousands of dollars, and slip away without ever being caught. Here are some sure-fire ways to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of the card you buy.

Know Who You’re Buying From


I know this sounds too basic to be useful, but I wish I could tell you how many people I’ve talked to that got scammed by buying a card off of a person with no record of selling. Remember, anybody can make an account on any auction website and sell you something. If a seller is trying to sell you a thousand-dollar card but they have no recorded transactions on their account, your safest bet is to hold off and see if they build a solid reputation over time. I know everybody is new at some point, but there’s no point in letting them practice on you. Better safe than sorry.

Get the Card Verified


In the world of sports memorabilia there is a term called “coining.” Basically, anytime you’re selling an item online, you put a coin or a piece of paper with the date and your name beside the card and send the buyer a picture of it. A lot of times, scammers will refuse to “coin” a card. That’s an immediate red flag for me as a buyer. If you want to spend my money on your card, you can write your initials and the date on a sticky note and snap me a quick pic of it. No coin? No buy!

If it Seems Too Good to be True…


Again, this seems elementary, but you would be amazed at the people who are stunned that the Michael Jordan mint-condition rookie card that they paid $5 for is a fake. In this age of technology, anybody with a digital photo editing program can make their own sports cards. Do your homework on the card that you’re looking at, check for comparable sells, market trends, and other factors. If somebody is offering you a card that is worth thousands for pennies on the dollar, it’s probably not the real deal.

There are good sellers out there who will sell you the card you’re looking for at a fair price. Find them and enjoy collecting!

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