What to look out for when buying signed goods

Posted by Sophie Regester in Personal Finance on 9 December 2016 - Sophie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Sports memorabilia is big business. The shorts Muhammad Ali wore in his 1963 bout with Henry Cooper sold for £70,000 in a recent auction. Those fans with slightly shallower pockets can also have a slice of the action but there are a lot of pitfalls out there for the unwary.

Any idea, product or service that brings in cash will be a target for the unscrupulous, who may want to capitalise on people’s desires and dreams by quickly scribbling on a football shirt and charging an inflated price under the guise of a famous name.

You may expect these sort of tricks from a bargain basement store or an online auction site where sellers can list what they like (to a degree) but even big auction houses can be fooled and allow the fake goods to go under their hammers and into someone’s man cave. With Christmas just around the corner, you may be looking for that illusive extra special present for someone who has everything and if the person you are shopping for is a big sports fan a signed item from their favourite golfer, jockey or cyclist may seem to be the ideal gift. Though you should be cautious, you shouldn’t need to rule this gift idea out completely, there are several clues to look out for.

Firstly do your homework, have a basic impression of the sport star, what their signature vaguely looks like and if they are no longer alive and kicking, when they passed away. A careless mistake made by a forger may be to have a fake copyright on the back of the signed picture, if this is dated after the individual passed away then it’s sure to be a fake. The old adage of if it seems too good to be true it probably is and also the one that says you get what you pay for should both be considered when making a memorabilia purchase.

If the item you are bidding on has a low price when compared to other similar goods you should be asking yourself why? Maybe everyone else knows something you don’t and maybe the seller is has only spent £3 on the marker pen and print out of a picture from Google images, so they figure any money they make is a bonus and they don’t need to aim high.

Be savvy and know what the item is worth to you before you commit. If you dive in and the goods are a dud you may be protected by PayPal or your credit card provider and if you purchased through an auction house you will typically have a year to raise a grievance - good luck out there sports fans!

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