The Wild Card Round is over, and although our Oakland Raiders have been eliminated, eight lucky football teams are heading to the Divisional Round of the playoffs this weekend. If you’re cheering one on and want to show it, you might be thinking of buying a hat or jersey online.
But buyer beware! Phony, lookalike websites touting “authentic” gear are all over the Internet, and it can be hard to tell which websites to trust. In 2016, consumers nationwide reported more than 400 counterfeit product scams to BBB Scam Tracker. There were also more than 2,600 online purchase scams reported, many of which concern illegitimate shops charging consumers for “official” gear and not delivering on promises.
If you’re looking to buy postseason football apparel, follow these tips from your BBB:
- Start with trust. It’s best to shop on established websites, such as the official NFL shop, an official team shop, or an authorized reseller. If you’re unfamiliar with the business or website, look it up at org to see its rating, complaint history, and reviews from past customer. Even if a website shows the BBB Seal, click on it to verify that it’s legitimate or search for the business independently on bbb.org. Just as it’s easy for scammers to create a fake website, they can also fake the BBB Seal.
- Buy sports merchandise that’s officially licensed. You can find authentic licensed merchandise and official retailers and resellers on the official website of the NFL or your favorite team. Authentic apparel will always have the correct fonts, colors and spelling, attached tags will usually have hologram stickers, and there won’t be any loose threads or other signs of poor quality.
- Look out for fakes. Read the website carefully for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Look for contact information, including a physical address, phone number and email. Also, be wary of too-good-to-be-true pricing. This is a red flag that the product is counterfeit.
- Avoid online marketplaces. When you make a purchase through an online marketplace, you can’t inspect the item or verify its authenticity before buying it.
If you come across a phony website selling counterfeit gear, make sure to report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others!