You are looking at that rare Barber Dime online or at a coin show. It’s a 1893 graded at MS-65. Book value says that this coins should be around $250 but a dealer is willing to sell it for $50. It’s NGC certified according to the slab so it has to be legit, right? That’s when verifying a coin certifications is critical.
Unfortunately, not necessarily. Coin fraud is a significant problem in our hobby with people counterfeiting coins or modifying them to look like a rare coin when they are not. Counterfeiters go as far as to create fake NGC or PCGS certifications and slabs to make their fakes look as real as possible.
Fortunately there is a quick and easy way to verify coin certifications from both NGC and PCGS right on your mobile phone. Both grading services have apps for Android and iPhone that allow you to scan the barcode of a certified coin to verify it is legitimate.
Scanning a Barcode
Both the NGC and PGCS apps have the ability to scan the barcode of a graded coin within them. If you don’t want to scan a barcode, you can type it in as well. In both apps, once you scan the coin, you will be presented information about that coin including how many that grading service has graded overall, how many in the particular grade of the coin you are scanning, and book values.
What About Online Purchases?
It becomes tricker when you are buying coins online from eBay, Amazon or coin dealers to verify the certification of a coin. Most sellers in these markets publish a coin of that type, not the coin that you are purchasing. There are two ways to go about this.
First, you can ask the seller for the barcode of the coin you are considering purchasing so you can verify it. Some will provide it, some won’t. If it is a rare coin, chances are they will because they only have a few (maybe only 1 or 2) of them and they have no problem with you verifying the legitimacy of the coin. But if you are looking to buy a NGC graded 2010-S Lincoln Cent in PF-69, don’t expect it. There are hundreds if not thousands of these coins that have been graded so it is unlikely the seller or dealer will give you the barcode for your particular purchase.
Second, if you do buy a coin online and can’t get the barcode ahead of time, as soon as you get it, scan it. If it comes up as a fraud, online services like eBay and Amazon have plenty of protection services to help you get your money back and report that seller. With them and with coin dealers, you can also dispute the charge with your credit card company that you made the purchase with and provide evidence that it is a fake.
If The Deal is too Good…
You all know the saying, “If the deal is too good, it is probably too good to be true”. This is true in every aspect of life including coin collecting. It is a sad reality that we face so stay on your toes. While small discounts are not that uncommon, if you run across a rare coin that is a huge discount, be weary.
The NGC and the PGCS apps can be found both in the Google Play Store for Android and the App Store for iPhone and iPad.
Be sure to check out the Tips & Tricks section for more help in building your coin collection.
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