The Better Business Bureau is urging football fans to use caution and commonsense when purchasing tickets to avoid being scammed. As the excitement surrounding the games heat up, so do the scam artists as they look for potential victims.
Consumers need to keep in mind that any seller they contact online, whether through a website, auction site or chat room, may or may not be legitimate. Consumers should also be aware that they may be dealing with a seller who is not licensed to resell tickets and may be in another state. Before choosing an online ticket broker or reseller, make sure your purchase is 100% guaranteed.
The secondary ticket market for sporting and entertainment events, which includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers, speculators and season ticket holders, is a $10 billion dollar per year industry. According to StubHub.com, online sales account for one third of transactions and the market is growing 15 to 20 percent a year.
“The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” said Becky Maier, BBB’s Public Relations Director. “Unfortunately, the Internet has also become a breeding ground for scammers looking to take advantage of sports fans who want tickets to hot sporting events.”
The BBB’s database includes reputable, secondary market, ticket firms that provide buyer protections including money back guarantees on the legitimacy of tickets. For example, TicketsNow.com takes possession of tickets and verifies them in-house before listing the tickets for resale. StubHub and RazorGator require that sellers provide credit-card numbers as a protection to buyers. If the seller’s tickets are fake, the seller’s credit card gets charged for the cost of replacement tickets.
The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals on the hundreds of online auctions, classifieds and bulletin boards. “The most common way sports fans are getting burned is by either paying for counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” added Maier.
The BBB offers the following advice when searching online for sporting events tickets:
* When buying from an online ticket broker, look for the BBB seal so you know that you are dealing with a company that has a good reputation and a secure Web site for processing your payment.
* If you buy tickets through eBay, 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. You should also click on the item number to view what was sold. It should send up a red flag if the seller has sold 500 items and has never sold tickets before.
* Read all fine print, and be sure to verify the ticket delivery dates.
* Beware of emails that seem to be from eBay guaranteeing the honesty of a seller. eBay does not send these types of messages.
* Ticket buyers should also conduct ticket sales transactions through the online site and not be lured away by a seller who would prefer to conduct the transaction privately.
* Never pay the seller by cash, cashier’s check or wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit. Pay with a credit card or through PayPal, both of which offer some protection to the buyer.
* If buying from a ticket broker, examine their credibility and reputation, such as time in the business, office location (do they operate with a cell phone only), participation in organizations such as the National Association of Ticket Brokers or BBB, eBay feedback, and referrals. Find out what guarantees are offered with the purchase.
* Is the broker licensed by their state and do they abide by any applicable state laws? Several states require ticket brokers to be licensed, including the state of Pennsylvania.
Game Day Sales – Consumers should be particularly wary of trying to buy tickets outside of the venue:
* The seller may be violating state law and/or rules and regulations covering ticket reselling near the stadium.
* If the transaction goes wrong, there is little the consumer can do since a cash transaction is usually done in a matter of minutes.
* Consider it a red flag if the tickets are going for $500 and you are offered tickets for $100.