Verify certified coins before purchasing

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Jim K, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    For those who may not know, the major coin grading services like PCGS, NGC, PCI, and others, offer the free service to verify the coins they have graded and certified.

    I simply go to my internet browser, (Google, Edge, Bing and others), and search NGC VERIFY or PCGS VERIFY, and that provides a link to the verification page on their websites, where you can simply type in the certification number, to make sure it matches the coin you are considering purchasing.

    Many grading companies even include photos of the coin, in its certified holder!

    Of course that may not help if the person selling the coin has altered the certification slab, but it is a good and free precaution to take before buying a coin, especially on the many auction sites out there where some people are simply taking crummy or even counterfeit coins and putting them in a plastic slab to make them appear to be certified coins!

    Its a pretty easy thing to do, to find a particular coin, copy the cetification number, and put it into a slab. If the number does not match the coin, or if the photo of the holder is different than the one for sale, then it is most definately a rip off.

    I apologize if this is old news for many of you fine folks. I hope that, at least, a few collectors or investors find this information useful. I was not aware of ths free service until a short time ago.


    I posted this as recently I viewed a 1972 DDO Cent. I checked the certification number and it looked fine, but one of the photos of the coin for sale was taken with the coin NOT in the holder. I asked the seller why he took the coin out of the holder, and he replied that he was a new collector, and did not have the money to have his coins graded.....YIKES! Big red flag there. I did not purchase the cent as it was obviously not what was advertised and the photos and certification number had likely been copied from one of the grading services websites.

    The second red flag on his listing was "Returns not accepted"!
    Nyatii, JeffC, Bob Evancho and 3 others like this.
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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    You dodged a bullet there. Hope you reported that seller, as it sounds like he was probably trying a bait and switch scam.

    "Check the cert verification" is sound advice anyway, since the cert verification pages (for PCGS and NGC, anyway) are useful tools for other reasons, as they usually include coin value information, population data, and so on.

    These are handy pages to have bookmarked.

  4. Mkman123

    Mkman123 Well-Known Member

    The NGC lookup verification is far superior to PCGS. For one, NGC takes a picture of every coin they grade in the slab. So if lets say I buy a foreign coin from China, I can compare the sellers coin to the NGC one and see if it matches up OR if the coin has been switched. For PCGS, not all coins even have a picture and if there is a picture (true view), the coin may not look like the coin with the slab shot as true views enhances the look of the coin most of the time!
  5. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Not all! I can give you dozens of cert #'s from 10-15 years ago for which there are no photos.

    FYI to @Jim K

    PCI went out of business about 10 years ago.

  6. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The cert verification tool is a help, but if there are no pictures, it has a limited use.

    It all gets back to the fundamental point. Know your coins or know the seller. I know many people love the Internet for coin buying, but you can’t beat seeing the item in question in person.
    Two Dogs and green18 like this.
  7. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Sound advice.........
  8. chascat

    chascat Well-Known Member

    I use my own grading skills , certifications, and reputation of seller for ALL purchases.
  9. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    NGC only started doing pictures in the last few years, they’re plenty of NGC certs that have no pictures just as there are plenty of PCGS certs that do have pictures. It should be noted too that the NGC pictures can be so bad it makes toned coins look like they were doctored or different coins when they’re the same coin that nothing was done too. The idea of some picture for every coin is a good one, the execution isn’t always though.

    While many PCGS certs don’t have pictures their page does do a very good job of linking to active registry sets if there are any and to past sales if they went though certain venues. This can often be a source of pictures for the coin especially the previous sales.

    Also if you bought a coin from China as in your example it would have a PCGS picture. All foreign coins besides moderns have PCGS pictures now, and more importantly all coins graded at the international offices have slab shot pictures.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
    Mkman123 and lordmarcovan like this.
  10. Mkman123

    Mkman123 Well-Known Member

    @baseball21 I'm into world coins mostly now so if PCGS has pics for most all of the foreign coins thats even better for me. The cautious part of me says, hey, the seller is from China, better scrutinize what they are selling to make sure the coin is legit vs something that was switched.
    baseball21 likes this.
  11. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    I'm a big fan of world coins too. Everything other than modern world coins (1965 or later) PCGS requires the Gold Shield level for the USA office which comes with the TrueViews even on the economy tier so everything in the last few years will have pictures. Hong Kong and the Paris offices do slab shots for essentially everything they grade and I believe China is the same.

    Completely agree that anything from China deserves to be looked at closer
    Mkman123 likes this.
  12. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    There are plenty of reputable dealers that do not accept returns under most conditions. It's not necessarily a red flag by itself.
  13. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    I did not mean to suggest that at all. I simply meant that many reputable sellers will generally accept returns, provided the slab has not been damaged or tampered with while non reputable sellers will generally not accept returns under any conditions. You are correct. many reputable dealers will not accept returns. My comment was just an account of a story from someone who was obviously selling a coin which did not conform to his listing. Wrong cert number, coin pictured was not in slab, returns not accepted, price out of line with what the coin generally sells for. Adding those things together made the non-return policy a red flag. By itself, a non-return policy can be good business, but I have found that reputable dealers will almost always accept returns on an item that was described as something that it is not, in error. In the case I sighted, a cert number was posted, but it was a raw coin.
    I apologize if my comment was misunderstood.
  14. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Thanks to everyone who posted replies to this thread. I and grateful for everyones input.

    Yes, it can be dangerous buying coins from China, Korea, and other foreign countries. Many counterfeits are produced there. I assume that is because its impossible for the USA to prosecute counterfeiters in countries we have no authorty in.

    I have purchased decent coins from China and other countries in the past, but I have done so with the expectation that they are 'fantasy' or 'souvenir' coins, and they are advertised as such.. (Got a nice 1894-S Barber fantasy coin for $7.99, just to fill that particular hole in my Barber binder).

    If you do your homework, and use the resources that are available, it makes it easier to avoid an embarrassing and very costly experience.

    Other words of wisdom when buying coins online.......

    Be careful when buying a rare or hard to find coin when the seller has many of them for sale and uses a "STOCK" photo. Unless its a common issue, like a 2019 P or D quarter, there is no reason for a seller to use a stock photo when advertising their coin. Again, that only applies to a rare coin, like an 1889-CC Morgan, or a 2000-P Cheerios Sacagawea dollar as examples.

    Ask questions of the seller, like the weight of the coin, its dimensions, & composition. I see a lot of coins that may say something like "1965 silver dime". Yes, its color is silver, but its composition is not. Beware when the seller tries to mislead people with information like that.

    No returns accepted can be a red flag if the listng is misleading. While many reputable dealers do not accept returns, they generally will anyway as long as the coin has not been damaged or replaced, and is returned in the EXACT same condition as when the seller shipped it; AND if their listing had an error in it, and the coin purchased is clearly not what was pictured and/or described.

    Ask for additional pictures, if needed. Most sellers want your business, and have no issues provding more detailed photos of the coins they are selling.

    I am sure I have not covered all the bases here, so if you have other suggestions, they are most welcome.

    Being disabled, its impossible for me to visit coin stores, dealers, or conventions. So my preferred way of adding to my collection is via the internet. However, there really is no substitute for walking into a coin store, with jewelers loupe in hand, and examining coins up close and personal, before buying.

    Good luck and happy hunting folks. Thanks for all the posts! Awesome!!!!
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