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How to Detect a Fake Authenticity Certificate

Updated on June 21, 2016

As online auction sites have become overwhelmingly popular, one method that has been used to substantiate the authenticity of memorabilia or artwork is the certificate of authenticity. While it may give a potential purchaser confidence to be assured that the item they are looking to purchase is accompanied by such a certificate, it’s important to know that sadly, such authentication is frequently faked. It’s easy to forge a document that looks impressively official to accompany a fraudulent piece of memorabilia, and unscrupulous merchants do so even though it’s a crime punishable by jail time. However, there are simple, common-sense ways to distinguish a genuine certificate of authenticity from a fake.

According to the experts at, a genuine certificate of authenticity will provide the potential buyer plenty of specific details. First, it will contain a full description of the item it accompanies. This description should be specific enough to distinguish the item you’re interested in from possibly similar pieces of memorabilia or art. If the description is vague enough that you’re not sure, be wary.

Next, the certificate will contain information on who is responsible for verifying that the item is genuine. In addition to an original signature, the certificate should include the name of the person verifying the item and who they work for. Details on how to contact the company, such as an address and phone number, are also part of the required information. This allows you to check that the verification company is a legitimate enterprise before you lay out any money. If the certificate you’re offered only has a stamped signature or does not offer the full contact details of the authenticating company so you can follow up, you are very likely looking at a fake.

Finally, the certificate should be backed up with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. If the company offering the certificate is unwilling to back it up with an assurance that the purchaser can get their money back in the event the item is determined to be a fake, then the certificate doesn’t offer you any protection at all.

Unscrupulous traders bank on the fact that potential buyers get so swept up with the idea of owning a priceless piece of memorabilia that they fail to take a critical look at all of the facts. It is possible to get a great deal on a signed sports item or a piece of original artwork at auction, but knowing fact from fiction takes the willingness to step back and carefully examine the assurances you are given. A proper certificate of authentication will give you all the information you need to do your homework and know that the item you are purchasing is the real deal.


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