KNOWN AND COMMON FAKE COACH SERIAL NUMBERS
To help wade through the counterfeit Coaches for sale, here's a basic guide to some of the most commonly-used fake serial numbers. Many of these show up on older classic leather bags but have been found on new Signature bags and leather bags too. And more will show up every month, so don't think that if a number isn't listed here it must be ok.
Of course there's more to deciding whether or not a Coach bag or other accessory is counterfeit than just the serial number. You also have to look at the construction details like zipper pulls (but NOT the zipper brand, which can never prove something's genuine!), hardware, stitching, the design and thickness of the straps, the design and font used on the creed stamp or creed patch inside the bag, and especially whether the style number (the numbers to the right of the dash) on the creed actually belongs to that style bag.
(Before 1994, most serial numbers were seven numbers (a few were six or eight numbers) long and didn't give any clue to the style name of the bag. From 1994 to the present the last half of the number was actually the style number (except for a few 1996 Olympics items), and the front half of the number showed where and when the item was made. Coaches made in 1994 or later should begin with a letter from A to M, but even there a few plants made mistakes and scrambled the digits - ask at Ebay's Shoes & Purses Forum if you're not sure)
Read the creed carefully and look for mistakes in spacing, spelling and punctuation (these don't always prove something is fake but they will 99 times out of 100).
Beware of "classic" leather bags with sewn-on cell phone holders on the side, another sure sign of a counterfeit.
Beware of any bag whose construction doesn't match the description on the creed patch. For instance, if a creed says that a bag is made of genuine leather and doesn't mention any other type of material but the bag is mostly fabric with leather trim, you're looking at a fake. Verify by asking an expert
And beware of any older bag where the name Coach is stamped on the outside or the flap, especially if it isn't in the lower center of the flap. There are exceptions, but ask someone at the Ebay Shoes and Purses Forum to look at the auction to see if your bag is one of them.
Also beware of badly-researched or Copied-and-Pasted "Guides" posted here and at other places on the Net that quote "Rules" and claim that a certain feature like YKK zippers prove a Coach is real (or fake). Coach has used almost a dozen different brands of zippers, and fakes makers can buy real OR fake YKKs so a zipper doesn't prove a thing). Almost all of them are filled with mistakes, outdated info or just plain nonsense. There is NO single detail that can ever prove a Coach is genuine. And those free downloadable "guides" you sometimes find are worth exactly what you paid for them - zip, zero, zilch. The ones you have to pay for aren't any better, and the links you sometimes find in them to "sites where you can buy genuine Coach bags" often lead to sites selling fakes. Don't waste a dime or your time on them.
Any question about authenticity should always be asked at Ebay's Fashionforum:
Please remember, this list is an introduction, NOT a complete list. There are thousands of fakes that won't have any of those numbers, and many fakes, especially newer ones, can have accurate serial numbers. Also remember that no one can say if a bag is genuine just from the serial number! Clear close-up photos of the inside and outside are always needed. A correct serial or style number will never prove that a Coach is genuine, but an INCORRECT number will almost always prove that a bag is fake.
To clarify - the SERIAL number is the entire number shown underneath the stamped creed. All FULL-SIZE bags will have serial numbers, smaller "accessory" bags might not. STYLE numbers are the 2nd half of the serial on items made after 1994 and are Coach's ID number for that style. Serial numbers containing ALL NUMBERS were made before 1994 and before Coach added the style number to the serial number and can't be used to find the style. It's never a good idea to buy a "Coach" unless the seller shows clear readable photos of the creed patch inside the bag, if it has one - smaller "accessory" items like some Swingpacks, Pouches and Crossbody mini bags may OR may not have creed patches and the patches may or may not have serial numbers. Unfortunately starting in late 2014, Coach stopped stamping the serial numbers on the creed patch and instead hid them on a tiny fabric tag at the bottom of the inside pocket, which makes them almost useless for authentication purposes.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ
Coach has made several major, and in my opinion very foolish changes in the last few years. In Summer 2014 they STOPPED STAMPING THE SERIAL NUMBERS THAT INCLUDED THE PRODUCTION CODES AND STYLE NUMBERS ONTO THE BOTTOM OF THE CREED PATCH. Not only does this make it harder for buyers to find the style number and name of their bag, but it also makes it much harder to spot and identify fakes. Please don't assume that a recent style without a stamped serial number is fake!
The stamped numbers have been replaced with two TINY white fabric tags hidden deep inside the bags, usually along a side or bottom seam and sometimes sewn near the bottom seam of the inside pockets. One shows the country of manufacture, and the other has 2 lines of factory production codes including Coach's style number. Photos of these tags are NECESSARY to identify and hopefully authenticate newer bags made after mid-2014.
VERY bad move, Coach.
Then in early 2016 they started including a cheap paper card in purses that they're calling a "certificate of Authenticity". We've said it many times - there is no such thing. NO PIECE OF PAPER CAN EVER PROVE A COACH IS GENUINE! Any counterfeiter can copy and reproduce a piece of paper! And even if the cards were ID-chipped like some highline makers do with tags inside their luxury bags (Coach does not), once that card would be taken out of the bag, the "proof" is gone. The ONLY thing that can ever prove or at least strongly indicate a Coach, or any other product, is genuine is if all the details are exactly correct and identical to the genuine version of the same style made in the same plant, month and year. Don't EVER depend on a piece of paper!
Another VERY bad and irresponsible move on Coach's part.
(added February 2016)
NT-4903 and Other Frequently-used Fake Coach Serial Numbers
"COACHES" WITH THESE NUMBERS ARE ALWAYS COUNTERFEIT - no exceptions:
ANY Coach bag with only two letters or one number and one letter to the left of the hyphen is fake.
501-20 + all similar numbers starting with 101-, 202-, 501-, 701-, or any other group of 3 numbers with a zero in the middle, followed by 2 or 3 numbers after the dash and usually with a patch that says "made in Korea" - always counterfeit, no matter how real the leather feels.
Coach NEVER made handbags in Korea and never used serial numbers with only 5 or 6 digits like this:
"xxx-xx" or "xxx-xxx" and without the abbreviated "No." in front of the numbers. Except for a few items with 6-digit serial numbers made and marked for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Coach never used serial numbers with 6 digits or less.
Coach never made 'classic' leather bags with matching sewn-on cell phone holders.
These numbers on PURSES are always fake, these numbers belong only to Travel or Business items (purses with style numbers beginning with 98xx or 99xx are usually genuine).
(The H4B-05xx sequence belonged to travel and business bags and briefcases, not handbags)
A5B-3906 - fake Sonoma Double Zip Bags
A8M-4896 - ALWAYS fake and probably wouldn't have been used in a purse
L4C-9941 or LAC-9941
N4H-9920 - always fake, one of the codes is invalid
UOJ-7785 and U0J-7785 - always fake. invalid prefix, found on many Signature bags. The -7785 style number belongs to an all-leather Demi which is also being frequently faked just like the similar Signature Demi style 6094. Both styles need to be looked at carefully.
Any serial number starting with UOJ- or U0J- or any other U0* or UO*- prefix is ALWAYS fake. No exceptions.
M4S-7414 is showing up on quite a few fakes. The entire number is invalid and that style code would never be on a bag with that prefix - ALWAYS fake.
H6S-9135 - always fake, same reasons as M4S-7414
0444-317, 0444-316 AND 0444-315 and possibly others beginning with 0444 - some "classic" fakes are showing up with these numbers and have a number of mistakes in the creed stamps and on the bags themselves. Assume they're all fake.
Any 'classic' leather bags with the # 0444-31(X) and heavy horizontal lines both above and below the numbers is fake.
0212-578 and 1212-578 with and without the same fake "Overstamping" lines have also recently shown up
B5-834-64, YE-02-57-0589, or ANY serial number divided into 3 or 4 parts with spaces or dashes is fake. Coach serial numbers NEVER have more than 2 sections, not counting the "No" in front of the actual serial number.
00138 - always fake, with or without any numbers or letters in front of it
308-9875 - another number popular with the crooks
308-9937 - probably always fake
233-5678 - probably always fake
DEJ-9816 and ECC-9816 - fake prefix and incorrect suffix, style number 9816 belongs only to a "classic" Duffle Sac, and DEJ- and EEC- will never appear in genuine Coaches
G7D-8188 - has shown up on several recent fakes, the second part is invalid
L4C-9956 or any style ending in -9956 - every one so far has been fake. The L4C- prefix usually appears in fake Signature fabric bags and so far -9956 has never been seen in a genuine bag.
Any recent (made later than 2004) or current model bag with a serial prefix of M3U- is fake. A genuine bag with this number would only have been made in 2003. But both real and fake bags can have the same prefix
Style number -1202 and other numbers from 1000 to 1300 should NEVER be in a bag or accessory and always indicate a fake. Those low 1000s numbers were only used for stationary items like planner, address book and sketch pad refills. The Sketch Pad Refill # -1202 is the most commonly-used fake style number.
Fake numbers L4C-9941 and LAC-9941 and other combinations ending in 9941 have shown up on a variety of classic-looking leather bags, many with badly wrinkled "stretch-marked" leather
GAC- and GAG- prefixes have also turned up lately. ANY bag with just three LETTERS to the left of the dash is fake. Be careful not to mistake a Zero in the center position for the letter O though, all
bags made in 2000 will have a zero in the center.
NJG- is a commonly-used prefix in fakes and has TWO invalid codes, for the month AND the year.
P7B-4907 - we've seen several Coaches with this serial number. Not only are the bags NOT Sonoma Small Bucket Zips, but the first digit "P" is completely wrong and would never be used on ANY Coach. Any bag with this serial number is counterfeit.
H6S-9135 - Any bag (especially any in the Hippie Flap style) with a serial number of H6S-9135 should be referred to the posters at Ebay for authentication. The style number belongs only to a Leather Hippie Flap bag but the ones we've seen with this number are either the wrong fabric or have invalid code digits and badly-stamped creeds.
P1L- prefixes have been showing up on mostly Patricia's Legacy bags style # 9951. Enough have been found to add this to the "always fake" section since "P" would never have been a valid Coach month code. Patricia's Legacy bags style 9951 are faked very often and should always be authenticated.
BIN- has been showing up as a prefix on many questionable bags and always with a creed that says it was made in the US. Not only was the N plant code used for a different country, but the middle digit is definitely a capital "i" and not the number 1. That middle digit in that kind of serial number format should be a number, not a letter. The font is also slightly different from the other font styles from the time period the bags are supposed to be from. Use extreme caution when considering bags with that creed prefix, and have them authenticated by experts before buying or bidding.
A lot of newer style Coaches are showing up with only a 5-digit number after the "No", either on the same line as the last words of the creed or by itself at the bottom of the patch - number 00138 is the most common. All these are fake. Coach serial numbers will never have only five digits.
T6F-9980 - one of several fake numbers showing up in fake classic Taft Bags. The style number is right but there are invalid codes in the prefix and a serious mistake in the design of the bag - Tafts are frequently faked, have them authenticated
0974-534 - has shown up on several counterfeit Willis Bags and fakes of other classic leather styles. Any creed stamp with this number is probably fake and needs to be looked at very closely by an expert on older Coaches
04M-5661 or o4M-5661 - ALWAYS FAKE whether the first digit is the letter "O" or a zero. The first half is invalid and is missing a valid month code, and the style number in the second half should belong ONLY to a multicolor Scribble Tote. (added April 2012)
L05Q-5688 - is another serial number that's been showing up on fakes for several years. For a while in 2009, there were various Bonnie canvas wannabes and leather Lilys that were showing up with this style number. Recently, copies of scarf print bags, signature demis and styles that never existed have been popping up with the same serial number.
As far as I can tell, style 5688 doesn't exist
L6Z-9966 with creeds that say the bag was made in the United States - another non-existant number that has been showing up not only on fakes of style 9966, the classic leather Legacy Zip, but on other styles too where the style number -9966 doesn't match the bag. Usually the fakes will have small mistakes in the creed, sewing or hardware that an expert can spot, but the real problem is that AFAIK the plant code "Z" was only used for the Dominican Republic plant and will always show the DR as the country of origin. The year code "6" for 1966 is probably too early for that plant.
22096-08 and ALL OTHER serial numbers with only 2 digits at the end, to the right of the dash, are fake, no exceptions. Real Coaches will ALWAYS have at least 3 numbers at the end after the dash.
012-4447 - has been showing up a lot lately, sometimes with "1941" right at the end of the creed statement. Not only do genuine creeds NEVER end with "1941" but no genuine Coaches less than 20-25 years old would ever have that serial number since there is no letter code for the month and since the all-number xxx-xxxx format was discontinued by the early 1990s. And all-number serials were unique to each bag so there should only be one single bag ever made with that number. All bags with that number are fake, and ALL serial numbers starting with "012-" need to be carefully authenticated. especially when they're in styles that are from the last 20 years. "012-3445" has been on the Fakes List for a long time and obviously the fakes makers aren't very creative when picking numbers for their garbage.
B8D-9261 - some bags especially classic and vintage leather styles are using this fake number. The creed stamping itself is usually the "puffy" kind that would never be seen in any pre-China bags, the creed format is totally wrong for the year code, and the bags are usually styles not made by Coach.
-9261 probably would never have been used in any pre-China bag either, the number sequence doesn't fit the year. Anyone who's studied the Salearea Guides on Coach creeds and serial numbers (there are very few Coach Guides I recommend but all of the Salearea Guides are excellent AND accurate) should be able to spot these fakes.
C6C-8963 - ALWAYS fake, and has been showing up in mostly all-leather fakes for a long time. There are other obvious mistakes in these fakes too, some even say "Leather WARS" instead of "Leatherware" at the top of the creed. (added July 2015)
ALL "Coaches" with a J8P- serial number prefix and a creed that says the bag was Made in the United States are counterfeit. That creed wording and plant code combination isn't valid.
Serial numbers beginning with the letters " i " or with "N" thru "Z" are not valid Coach numbers and are usually fake but there ARE a few very rare exceptions since some non-US plants mistakenly used "i" or "n" until corrected. Ask an expert if a bag starts with either of those two letters
Recent Coaches with a thick paper tag (usually gray or silver) that says "Made In Italy" or "Made In USA" are fakes.
Any bag with a tag or patch that says "Sports Coach" or "SportsCoach" is NOT a genuine Coach
THIS IS A CORRECTION TO THE PREVIOUS GUIDE:
Coach DID make some bags with a creed stamp that began "This is a Coach BEAN Bag...". For a long time I thought these were all fakes and that the only real Bean Bag creeds were on special desk paperweights and keychains. But it's been confirmed by Ebay seller SacsMagnifiques1941 and by Jed Winokur, Coach's official archivist, that some genuine handbags were mistakenly stamped with the same Bean Bag stamp used for those limited accessories.
Unfortunately, some fakes makers copied the Bean Bag stamp and used it in counterfeit "Coaches". Some of them are obvious fakes, but some are very close to the look of the genuine bags and stamp. ALL handbags with Bean Bag creeds should always be authenticated at Ebay's Fashion Discussion Board or at a valid site offering authentications by qualified Coach experts.
Coach items with these numbers are ALMOST ALWAYS COUNTERFEIT and need to be looked at by an expert:
-4154, -9941, and -9956 are style numbers that have appeared in dozens if not hundreds of proven fakes, and Coaches with any of those numbers should always be assumed to be counterfeit. I've never seen any genuine bag with these style numbers.
M4N-4154 - Anything starting with M4N- is suspect and should be authenticated by an expert.
-4154 style numbers are showing up on a LOT of fakes, usually but not always starting with M4N-, M4H-, N4N-, J8H- or some similar combination. That style number should belong ONLY to an all-leather bag from the Soho line although the style number itself may be a "blank" like -9956 and may never have been used in an actual purse.
N4H-9920 has started showing up on all-leather fakes. That style number belongs ONLY to a Becket Zip with rather unique strap fastenings - any bag with buckles or dog-leash clips at the strap ends is fake. The Month code is also invalid - watch out for other serial numbers starting with N4H-
K2G-1955, L2G-1955, or ANY bag ending with -1955 which doesn't even seem to be a purse style number.
Serial numbers beginning with the letters N thru Z are not valid Coach numbers and are almost always fake. There are a few very rare exceptions for "N" so ask an expert.
The following numbers are OFTEN USED ON COUNTERFEITS but can also show up in genuine bags and need to be looked at very carefully:
A2G-6094 and A2J-6094 - or ANY bag ending in 6094 - Fake if it's not a Signature Demi Bag, and there are fakes of that style too. One of the most common fake numbers on "Foaches"
Look very carefully at classic bags beginning with " H6M- " and with "Made in the United States" at the bottom of the creed, quite a few fakes seem to use this prefix.
J4D-4133 - Fake if it's not a classic all-leather Waverly Bag
J8Y- and J4D- prefixes have shown up on some well-copied fakes in both fabric and leather. Bags with this prefix need to be authenticated. Any item with any kind of Signature C fabric having one of these serial prefixes will ALWAYS be fake, no exceptions. Almost all J8Y- prefixes seem to be fake.
There are some ending in -9927 but aren't Willis Bags, and -5130 sometimes shows up on bags that aren't Station Bags. These styles are often faked and need to be examined carefully.
-10125 is starting to show up as of late 2010 on various Signature and Sig Stripe bags & accessories. That number was only used on a Sig Stripe Tote and most of those were fake too. Always have that style number authenticated. This number also often shows up in fakes on its own with no prefix in front.
Style number -40725 has been showing up in fake bags and Swingpacks
M1K-6047 is often used on fakes and any bag with that number needs to be authenticated. Any bag with a style number of -6047 that isn't a fabric Signature Satchel is fake.
The counterfeiters also use many legitimate-looking style numbers (the 2nd half of the serial number) in the serial numbers but on the wrong style bags or accessories - THESE HAVE BEEN USED IN THOUSANDS OF FAKES:
-5659 which should only be on a Scribble Tote, about 11x7 with bright multicolor Cs
-6094 which should only be on a small Signature Demi, and
-1417 which should only be on an East-West Leather duffle. These three numbers are special favorites with counterfeiters and have appeared on thousands of fakes.
Accessories with style #-5077 are fake, that number belongs to an Optic Bee Tote.
J8H- and M4B- prefixes are used in genuine bags but can be possible counterfeits especially if the font of the digits of the serial number seems slightly different. Please have them looked at by an expert - NOT a Coach store employee, many of whom may be Coach lovers but who have no training in recognising fakes, especially older ones. Fakes with these prefixes are usually pretty accurate, and care must be used especially with the J8*- prefix which seems to be a favorite with counterfeiters.
J8Y-4161 is just one of the J8Y- prefix and style number combinations that has been found in several fakes that are NOT #4161 Soho Zip Hobos. EXTREME care must be used with any bags with that number, along with ALL J8Y-, J8H-, and M4B- serial number prefixes. Other prefixes often found in fake as well as real serial numbers:
There has been a large increase of proveably fake bags using both J8H- and J9H- serial prefixes. ALL bags with these numbers need to be carefully authenticated, please ask for help at Ebay's Shoes, Purses and Accessories Discussion Group.
And to repeat - all "Coaches" with a J8P- serial number prefix and a creed that says the bag was Made in the United States are FAKE
In fact there are a lot of questionable bags from the middle and late 1990s starting with the month code "J". It seems to be a spsecial favorite with counterfeiters but it also was used in authentic bags. Have these authenticated if possible.
J4N-4082 which belongs only to a Soho Bag from 1994.
D8J- Coaches with serial numbers starting with D8J- especially older bags need to be looked at carefully since fakes have been spotted with this combination.
D2J- serial number prefixes whenever they're part of a creed stamp that says the bag was made in the US. That code sequence was ONLY used for bags made in a Chinese plant, never an American one. And ALL serial prefixes with J as the third digit and a "Made in the US" creed need to be carefully authenticated, since the "J" plant in the US originally made only clothing items.
Since 1999 the J plant was ONLY used by a Chinese plant and should NEVER be found in any bags with creeds saying they were made in the USA.
The genuine ones have a very specific and noticeable font and stamping and will all be classic 1995 leather styles. The fakes have been turning up not just in copies of leather styles from 1995 but also in fake Signature styles and other styles that weren't even made until long after that year. Any Signature C or other C pattern, Coach logo, or fabric bag with this prefix is almost 100 percent sure to be fake. Have bags with this prefix authenticated at Ebay's Shoes and Purses Discussion Forum or other reputable venue.
H5G- Serial Number Prefix - Here's another one that's been turning up a lot in the last few months. It's found in both real and fake bags and ANY bag with this prefix needs to be authenticated, especially since the fakes have been outnumbering the genuine ones recently.
J7R- serial number prefixes with a too-thick font, sometimes extra stamp impressions at the corners of the creed or serial number and usually at least one or two wrong details in the construction of the bag itself have been showing up recently. I suggest having these authenticated by an expert at Ebay's Shoes, Purses and Accessories Board since there's a very good chance they were not made by Coach.
The following numbers OFTEN APPEAR IN FAKES:
J3J-6818 - belongs to a Soho mini sig flap bag but has shown up on fakes in other styles and on fake Flap Bags
B3K-7022 - should be a denim signature pouch with red stripes center front
MIK-6047 - seen on many fakes in different styles but belongs only to a specific style of Signature Satchel
A05U-1444 - should only be on a Mini Signature Pocket Flap
A05U-1482 - which should only belong to a Small Signature Flap bag with a leather or suede front buckle strap and retainer. Always have any bag with this number authenticated at Ebay's Shoes, Purses and Accessories forum or at thePurseForum, as with any other questionable numbers listed in this Guide.
-9363 style numbers have started to show up on fakes, usually some kind of Signature, Sig Optic or Sig Tie-Dye fabric. On some the creed patch looks a bit "off" but on others it might look very accurate. The full serial number usually is F04U-9363 but the thing to remember is that any genuine bag with this style and/or serial number should only be a standard Signature C fabric in a Soft East-West Duffle style. Check Ebay for the genuine version, there are usually several listed for sale.
"EMB OP PAT LEAH" price tags
Not a fake number, but fakes are showing up with phony price tags showing a variety of different style numbers but with the abbreviated description "EMB OP PAT LEAH" short for Embossed Op Art Patent Leah.
This description should ONLY belong on a patent leather tote or satchel-style bag and most genuine ones would have style numbers of 13178 or 14729. Have these authenticated.
Again, this is NOT a complete list of all fake serial numbers. New examples turn up constantly, and many fakes have serials that actually belong to the style the fake bag is copying. And bags made before 1994 don't have the Coach style number as part of the serial number - DON'T try to use the last 3 or 4 digits for authentication if there are NO LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET in the serial number.
Please remember, just because a Coach item seems to have the right style number, or looks just like the picture from Coach's website or another purse on Ebay, or the C's line up correctly, or you found it on Google, OR IT HAS YKK ZIPPERS, that doesn't mean it's genuine. See the six Coach Guides by Ebay seller Salearea for an excellent explanation of the YKK Zipper Myth and many other Authenticity Myths and questions:
One final comment about authenticating a Coach product:
A serial number by itself can NEVER prove that a Coach is genuine!
Authentication requires a full set of photographs of the item - purse, wallet, keychain, whatever - so the experts can look for critical details that will tell them if the item is genuine or not. Ebay members can post photos of the item at Ebay's Fashion Forum:
Or there are Purseforums where experts will give their opinions (Search Google for "purseforum Coach" to find help), but photos are ALWAYS needed, unless the serial number is the same as one of the numbers listed near the top of this Guide as "Always Fake". Don't EVER believe that a serial number without any photos, or even something as easy to buy or fake as a certain brand of zipper, can EVER prove that what seems to be a Coach is the Real Deal.
And remember - just because you haven't seen a certain style before, or you don't like the way it looks, or can't find it on Google, or you don't like it, or think that "Coach couldn't possibly have made something that ugly", that doesn't mean it's fake.
And just because it has the "right" serial number or a zipper stamped with a certain brand name, that doesn't mean it's real.
See Part 2 of this Guide for additional numbers and information.
(updated October-2013, March 2015, July 2015)