The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards.
“We are warning sports fans, they can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never actually arrive,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO.
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is a $10 billion a year industry. It includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders.
“The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” Hoth said. “Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers looking to take advantage of sports fans.”
The BBB’s database includes reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller’s card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.
The BBB offers the following advice for fans seeking tickets:
- Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren’t real, the seller will be long gone.
- Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for the BBB logo on the website and click on it to make sure it’s real. The BBB’s dynamic seal will take you directly to the BBB Business Review, where you can view the company’s reliability report.
- Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by https:// at the start of its website address or URL, or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
- If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
- Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a “private” transaction. Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.
- If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, never pay the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit. Pay by credit card. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to dispute charges for services not rendered.
- Ask the seller to email you a picture of the tickets, including a receipt or other proof that the tickets are not counterfeit. Scrutinize the picture carefully, looking for any alterations or inaccuracies, and cross-check the seat assignment with the map on the venue’s Web site before you buy.
- Try to purchase from a local seller that you can meet in person. Meet in a public place and do not go alone. The “seller” could be a scammer who is looking for a victim to rob. He/she knows where you’ll be and that you’re carrying a lot of money, which makes you an easy target.
- When meeting the seller, ask for some identification, and write it down in case you need it later.
Before you do business with a charity or company, check its BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), (920)-734-4352 (Appleton), (608)-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter and Facebook.