TAMPA, Fla. - Whether your color of choice is orange or crimson, the merchandise you buy should share one thing. A hologram seal telling you it's the real deal. Sports agencies warn that if it's missing, you're going to end up paying a lot of money for something completely bogus.
Team spirit sure isn't in short supply in Tampa but neither are counterfeit products.
"As long as it says Clemson on it and it's orange it's good enough for me!" said fan Kenneth Showman.
During last year's College Football Playoff, the Collegiate Licensing Company seized nearly 2,000 items of bogus team gear. Coming in at a whopping retail value of more than $52,000.
"I've seen people selling unlicensed merchandise in this parking lot right next door," said Matthew Smith who is operating a tent by the Raymond James Stadium.
It's not a victimless crime. Jacksonville based Sports Mania is exactly the type of small business threatened by this crime.
"Outside of the tent people have been driving by and taking pictures of the product," said Smith with Sports Mania.
The bold crooks then use the pictures to reproduce the designs with a screen printing machine. Meaning, it looks close to the real thing. Even legitimate businesses can be tricked if they don't do their research.
"And have the permitting department and the NCAA coming and shut you down and take up all your merchandise because you tried cheating and selling something without the hologram on it," said Smith.
That's why he checks the licensing of every product before buying in bulk.
So, how can you tell the difference between real and fake? The CLC says its as simple as checking your tags and labels. Real products will carry a holographic seal. Each one has a unique number that can be traced back to the licensed vendor.
If you need any more reasons to make sure your product is real, there's at least two more. Fake merchandise will often be of much lower quality. Plus, sales from officially sold products will go to Extra Yard for Teachers to help out local educators and students.