eBay’s New Trading Card Authenticity Still Has Lots of Room to Improve

There is a nasty issue happening in the hobby of sports collecting and in trading cards. Fakes! Lots of fakes. Even some of the top online sellers have reprints that they sell and describe properly (and some improperly) on listings within eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) and elsewhere. In most cases these cards are described properly, but in many cases the worlds reprint or reproduction is almost impossible to find.

Now eBay has a new announcement under Seller News inside the eBay Community Announcements — Authenticity Guarantee for Trading Cards! This is eBay’s authentication service, for individual, ungraded sports trading cards, collectible card games), and for non-sports trading cards. There is a catch here, and it means that many cards are going to slip through. This authenticity guarantee is for cards valued at $750 and higher.

The professional authentication provider is the Certified Collectibles Group, which includes CGC Trading Cards and Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG). They will verify your card before sending it to the buyer to ensure that “you—and your buyer—are protected.”

This authentication only covers the single ungraded trading cards that sell for $750 or more. The service will not apply for sets and lots, nor will it be available for the following: kits, decks, boxes, packs, patch/jersey, wardrobe/costume cards and autographed cards. eBay does note that if your card has any of these attributes then sellers need to add these important details to the title of their item listing. eBay also said that it does plan to expand eligibility criteria to more types of trading cards “and price eligibility thresholds” in the future.

The view of Collectors Dashboard is that this effort, while commendable, still has a long way to go. Whether or not these cards are shown to be reprints in a description isn’t enough. If a card is a reprint the word reprint needs to be written on the front and/or the back of the card. Period. Otherwise this is knowingly aiding counterfeit cards. Many fake cards sell for far less than $750.

eBay did also address returns because some items that have been returned are not the items which were sent:

If you offer returns and your buyer chooses to return the item, the authenticator will inspect and verify it before they send it back to you, ensuring you get the same item back that was sent in the original condition… If you don’t offer returns, the item will be deemed as final sale.

eBay launched Authenticity Guarantee for select categories in 2020 and the announcement said that They have already authenticated over 1 million sneakers, watches, and luxury handbags through the service. Here is how they are saying the service will work:

  • If your item is eligible for authentication, a blue “Authenticity Guarantee” check mark will automatically appear on your listing.
  • When a buyer purchases your item, you’ll receive a confirmation email indicating the item was sold with Authenticity Guarantee, which will also be noted in your order details in Seller Hub.
  • You’ll ship the card to the authenticator and the card will go through a multi-point inspection before receiving a tamper-proof authentication sticker and a unique QR code.
  • Your item will be delivered safely to the buyer via 4-day or less tracked shipping. At this time, all cards sold via Authenticity Guarantee require a signature delivery.

We have advocated for eBay to be more diligent about the number of fakes that are sold through eBay. There are too many instances to count where fake cards are being sold legally because the listing says it is a reprint. The problem is that sometimes the reprint cards do not say they are fake, and those cards end up being sold to unsuspecting buyers at conventions, in trades and so on.

This is at least a start to eBay policing some fraud in the industry. That said, there is still a long way to go and many fake cards are going to still be sold or traded to unsuspecting collectors.