COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Better Business Bureau is warning people to watch out for fakes when shopping for team gear and sports memorabilia around the Super Bowl.
The organization says shopping for these items online can make it difficult to tell if a product is genuine, and fans should be wary of finding merchandise through social media ads or quick web searches.
"Here in Missouri, although we're excited about the Chiefs being in the Super Bowl, we need to pay more attention because the scammers know that we fans want Chiefs memorabilia," said BBB regional director Khesha Duncan.
She said it's important to vet sellers before making a purchase, which includes:
- Looking for a physical address and phone number
- Comparing prices with other sellers; if an item is selling for significantly cheaper by one seller it could be a red flag
- Ask for a photo of the product
- Ask for a money back guarantee if the item turns out to not be what was expected
The BBB also encourages people to make purchases with a credit card and only on secure websites that begin with and address that starts with "https." If someone pays with a wire transfer or prepaid debit card, there is no way to get money back once it's gone.
Even when dealing with legitimate sellers, the BBB advises fans to look carefully and ensure they know what they're paying for.
The BBB said there is a significant difference between "game-used" and "game-issued" items. It says a game-issued item might have been made for someone to wear but might not have been worn in a game.
Autographs can also be tricky between reproductions and outright forgeries. Consumers need to be aware of online listings that say an item has been "hand-signed" but doesn't specify who signed it.
The Store Director at Columbia Academy Sports + Outdoors Michael Young said people can also look for the shiny, silver NFL logo sticker on NFL merchandise to ensure they're buying official gear.
He said signs of knock-off items include misspellings, backward logos, bad printing and poor quality.
"Just to play it safe, don't buy from anyone who's not licensed," Young said.
The BBB said people should look for certificates of authenticity. A legitimate COA should have details about who issued it and their contact information.
"If people are hesitant to prove that the item is authentic, that's a reason to be concerned and do your research," Duncan said.
People should also be cautious if bidding for items at charity auctions. The BBB said scammers sometimes provide "donations" of fake memorabilia. Bidders should look for suspicious price differences and authentications.
Academy Sports + Outdoors will be selling official Super Bowl gear Sunday night following a Kansas Chiefs Win. Young said they will have the gear out and ready within about 20 minutes and will stay open until the last customer has left.