Don't fall for fake sports memorabilia

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Sports memorabilia is a popular gift during the holidays, but be warned, rip-offs are just as popular.

To the average sports fan, you’re probably not able to tell the difference between fake autographed items and the real thing.

Often times, it takes a professional service to make that determination.

Jeff Thalblum owns the sports memorabilia store Free Agent Sports.

He says two of the hottest collector’s items this shopping season are autographs from Larry Fitzgerald and Paul Goldschmidt.

The autographs will cost you well over a hundred bucks, but you could be out all that money if the items turn out to be fake.

Thalblum said this time of year, scammers make a killing selling fake autographs -- especially online -- and that consumers shouldn't be swayed by those "too-good-to-be-true" prices.

“They don't ask any questions. They don't ask for any type of proof. They just see $65 or $150 at the mall and they're like, I'm going to go with the $65,” he said.

So how can you tell if an autographed item is real?

Ask for proof.

Thalblum said the seller should always be able to produce a ticket stub or a picture from the day the item was signed.

Also, look for an authentication sticker from companies like Professional Sports Authenticator, proving the item is the real deal.