PSA/DNA was the first third party authentication company to get a foothold in the authentic autographed memorabilia business. So it must have done some things right. As is obvious by reading some of my other blog posts, I do not hold PSA/DNA in high regard -- I use JSA almost exclusively for my authentication business for a number of reasons. But I will concede the vast majority of PSA/DNA authenticated autographs ARE authentic.
Recently a different autograph authentication issue regarding PSA/DNA has arisen which is not really the company's fault. There are devious criminals out there taking advantage of PSA/DNA's own website database limitations to create and sell high end forged autographs of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and probably many others.
These crooks identified old PSA/DNA certificate numbers corresponding to Woods, Jordan, Ali etc and forged the appropriate autographed item, and then produced fake PSA/DNA stickers and certificate of authenticity cards. When viewed on eBay, the COA cards and stickers appear legitimate, and because the numbers match the database, they probably fool 99% of prospective buyers.
There are two ways to identify the fakes. First, the PSA/DNA database numbers used by the forgers mostly start with a B followed by 5 digits (but I've also seen one starting with a D). PSA/DNA only issued COA cards with those letters (as well as A, C, E and F) that are RECTANGULAR, not SQUARE. Furthermore, authentic PSA/DNA stickers starting with letters A-F are NOT OVAL, like the current ones, but RECTANGULAR with rounded corners.
Probably more importantly and more obviously, ANY autographed items valued above around $200 or so, including 100% of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali autographs, would NOT come with a PSA/DNA COA card but a PSA/DNA Letter of Authenticity which would show a photo of the actual signature.
Some sucker on eBay paid $700 plus for the fake Tiger Woods autographed golf ball shown here, and unfortunately there are who knows how many others like this one on the market. Beware!