Chicago, IL-June 29, 2009 - While many people are remembering Michael Jackson with memorials, others are looking at his death as an opportunity to cheat sorrowful fans out of money, warns the Better Business Bureau.
“The cause of Michael Jackson’s untimely death still needs to be determined, and already people are seeing suspicious and awkwardly written e-mails appear in their inboxes offering supposedly authentic items from the pop singer’s life,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Great care should be taken by anyone who wants to buy Michael Jackson memorabilia at this time.”
Here are some Questions and suggestions from the Better Business Bureau to ask yourself and anyone trying to sell you items:
ADVERTISING CLAIMS? Be careful of the contentions by a seller that a collectable item is a limited edition collectable. There still could have been thousands or millions made. If there is a large advertising campaign it may be too common an item to increase in value in the future.
IS THE SELLER TRUSTWORTHY? If the seller is a retail operation, look for the BBB seal or check the retailer’s rating at the www.bbb.org. If it is an individual selling through an online commerce Web site, look at the seller’s rating on that site and other people’s experience with materials purchased from that person. Look for the Better Business Bureau's seal on Web sites and click on the seal to confirm its legitimacy. If there isn't a BBB seal on the site, check a company out at www.bbb.org
HOW RARE IS THE ITEM? Yes, there’s a lot of interest in Michael Jackson memorabilia right now. However, is the item truly unique and worthy of its price, or has the price simply been jacked up because of current interest? Look at prices of comparable items associated with other performers.
IS THE ITEM AUTHENTIC? If it appears to be a mass-produced item that you believe has some value, ask if it is licensed. Look for the license tag or other proof of licensing. If it is an autograph or other personal item, the seller should be willing to explain how he or she came in possession of it. Autographs can be verified by a professional third party organization.
_SELLING A COLLECTABLE ITEM? The sentimental value the item holds for you could be more important than the actual prize you receive by selling it in the marketplace.
PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD? If the item isn’t authentic or what you expected, you can always dispute the charge with the credit card company and possibly obtain a refund.
BUYING FROM A DEALER? Check their reliability with your BBB at www.bbb.org
“Even though people may be emotional at this time,” explained the BBB’s Bernas, “we urge them to continue to be smart consumers. There are many unscrupulous people out there betting that emotion will trump sensible buying to make money from people’s sorrow at a time like this.”