Real or Fake? Be careful when buying Seahawks autographs

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Seahawks memorabilia collector Carson Cummins has nearly every player's autograph. At his desk, there are over a dozen footballs signed by players like Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor. On his wall, there’s a picture autographed by Russell Wilson.

"I pretty much have the whole Super Bowl roster," said Cummins.

He started collecting the autographs last year. Cummins likes to personally meet the players and have them sign his items.

"That way you know it's real," said Cummins.

Since last year’s Super Bowl, Seahawks memorabilia is big business. So how do you know if that Seahawks signature you’re buying is real or fake?

"There is a lot of stuff on the market that isn’t legit,” said Brent Holcomb with Mill Creek Sports.

Technology is changing the way autograph dealers authenticate signed items sold in stores and online. Holcomb said many star athletes now have unique holograms placed on the item right after they are autographed. The hologram sticker and certificate of authenticity are used to verify the signature.

"I think technology has kind of caught up with the forgers out there," said Holcomb.

Industry experts say it’s still import for collectors to research the stores and websites selling memorabilia.

The Better Business Bureau recommends that fans make purchases from reputable dealers. Also, be careful when purchasing items online on eBay and Craigslist.

Independent appraisers can verify the authenticity of items purchased. Holcomb said it is not uncommon for fans to bring in autograph items from Seahawks or other athletes to determine if they are real. He has seen cases where the items turned out to be fake.

That’s why some fans like Cummins prefer to get the autographs themselves even if the players rarely sign in public.

"The harder they are, the funner they are to get," said Cummins.