Buying fake NBA All-Star merch online poses identity theft risk

Feb 17, 2023, 8:39 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — Something else besides NBA All-Stars and their fans has come to town this week — counterfeit merch. Often the talk about counterfeit goods centers around poor-quality gear made of questionable materials that easily shrink, fade or fall apart. But not all the dangers are always obvious — especially if you are shopping online.

“There is a massive amount of counterfeit, fake merchandise out there,” said cybersecurity expert Earl Foote of Nexus IT Consultants. He warned not all the fake All-Star jerseys, T-shirts, hats and other merchandise is getting sold on the street or at flea markets. The bad guys have also set up fake websites, using legit product photos and not just to sell you shoddy rip-offs.

“Many of those websites are set up to steal your credit card information, to steal your PII, or your personally identifiable information,” Foote said.

Do not just watch out for fake websites. Foote said shoppers should be skeptical of ads touting NBA All-Star gear that pops up on their social media.

“Anybody can buy an ad from Facebook, from Google from, you know, wherever it is, if they’re willing to pay the money,” he explained. “They have the links in those ads, malware planted in them so all you have to do is click on the ad and malware will download to your device. It provides a backdoor to hackers. Not only can they steal your data and your money, but they can plant malware, ransomware on your computer and completely encrypt it.”

Foote said to check the website before you buy anything.

“Look for pretty poor design, misaligned graphics. The copy might be poor,” he said. “Look at the URL, which is the website address. Does it make sense, or is it random? Is it weird? Is it U.S. based, or is the website somewhere else?”

Scammers also fool people with an ever-so-slight change in that web address, such as adding an extra letter.

Vivint Arena transforms for NBA All-Star event

“If you see some ad that takes you to NBAA.com (instead of NBA.com) and you don’t notice it, you’re going to get duped,” Foote warned.

Also, a site’s address needs to start with HTTPS: S meaning secured and encrypted.

“If you see anything out there that’s just HTTP, no matter whether it’s related to the NBA All-Star weekend or not, I would never give my information or credit card information to a website that is not secure with that S,” Foote cautioned.

But your best bet in avoiding cheap All-Star knockoffs and real identity theft is to cough up some more dough and buy from the real sellers.

“Go to the NBA Store, right? Go directly to the source. Don’t go to random websites,” Foote said. “Go to retailers that you know are authorized to sell NBA merch or memorabilia.”

Online purchase scams continued to be the most reported scam type to BBB Scam Tracker in 2022, making up nearly a third of all scams reported and over 70% of those involving loss of money.

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Buying fake NBA All-Star merch online poses identity theft risk