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Ticket scams for the big games

From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:

Football fans are looking forward to the upcoming playoff games. This year, people holding tickets for admission to the venues must comply with COVID-19 protocols, but ticket sales are still brisk, and competition to secure a seat to the games can be tough.

Many stadiums and venues have gone to only accepting digital tickets, making the possibilities for scams all the more likely.

Here is what you need to know about online ticket purchases.

Thanks to the internet, there are countless ways for consumers to find tickets and connect with online marketplaces, ticket sellers, and resellers. Unfortunately, some of them are rip-offs, and it’s not always clear how to tell if a ticket is fake. Last year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 140 reports on BBB Scam Tracker about ticket scams related to sporting events, concerts, theatre, and more.

BBB is warning consumers to be smart when searching for and purchasing tickets, to ensure they are purchasing from a trustworthy source. BBB and the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) are working to raise awareness and educate fans about the smartest ways to buy tickets on the secondary resale market.

Gary Adler, Executive Director and Counsel for the NATB, recommends that people download their ticket to a digital wallet before the event. With large crowds outside the stadium or venue, cell phone service may be spotty, which may make it harder to access your ticket.

Just like scammers found a way into the paper ticket arena, Adler says that they will do what they can to get into the digital ticket game. “The members of our association are professional resellers. They are in the business of doing things right. Think about it- you are not going to be a professional reseller if you do not deliver what you promise or take care of customers. If in the event there is some issue, if you have bought from a reputable reseller member of our association, you will have some recourse. Always go back to making sure you do your homework and make sure you know who you are buying from,” said Adler.

Here are some tips for buying tickets, whether you are looking for tickets for a game, concert tickets, or any other event:

  • Purchase from the venue whenever possible. Many official ticket sales agents now offer secondary sales options, as well.
  • Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling scam tickets.
  • Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on BBB.org to learn what other customers have experienced. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company.
  • Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a secure purchasing system. Don’t click through from emails or online ads; a common ticket scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company.
  • Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.
  • Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won’t be able to get your money back.
  • Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment; some of these ads are going to be ticket scams, especially if the prices are low.
  • If you’re unsure, verify your tickets. Pay a visit to the arena where the event will be held. Present your ticket to “Will Call” (customer service) and they can verify if your ticket is legitimate and show you how to tell if a ticket is fake.

Go to BBB.org to look up online marketplace business profiles, file a complaint, or write a customer review.  Visit BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams.

We thank the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) for sponsoring this information.

About the BBB serving Central Virginia:

BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.

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