The fear of auction fraud may scare some people away from participating in live auctions, because they are so terrified of being scammed that they dare not participate in this exciting and often bargain-finding activity. Auction fraud is actually fairly simple to avoid, if you stay alert and are up-to-date on auction lingo. If you educate yourself and follow these tips, you should be able to stay far away from scams and enjoy the bidding process without fear.
Do your research. Don't even attend your first auction without knowing what the sorts of items you're interested in are going for these days. Get intimate with the lingo and understand where it should be used and where it should never be used. And don't neglect the specific auctioneer and auction house you're attending -- research them and find out if they have any history of scams and what kinds of items they are going to be auctioning off this time.
Don't buy things with a certificate of authenticity. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but for the most part, a certificate of authenticity is a good reason for sellers to keep people from actually investigating the item. They can push you away and say, "Hey, this has a certificate; it's for real," while the item is actually of questionable quality and should be inspected. Never trust that certificate and always do your own investigations before you take for granted that it's a legitimate find.
Investigate rumors about items that have been bad-mouthed. If an item is rumored to be failed or broken, it can drop drastically in perceived value; and if these rumors are false, that benefits the people who spread the rumors and can then capitalize on the steeply-dropped price. If you hear from patrons of the auction house that an item may not be in tip-top shape, do some investigative work on your own to confirm or deny those rumors.
Read the fine print. Auction items often have a sign stuck to them that includes fine print about the item, and if there are sketchy terms or language here, stay away. Granted, not all items that have questionable legalese are fraudulent -- the author may just not know how to use legal language -- but it is definitely a warning sign.
Investigate odd descriptions. If an item is claimed to be "Pencil signed [original artist]," beware: that can simply mean someone took a pencil and signed the name of the artist on a fake. If you aren't sure exactly why a description is phrased a certain way, talk to the auctioneer or the seller, if you can.
Auctions, flea markets, garage sales...we've got it all at GarageSaleCow.com, so visit our main site today!