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How to Keep Scams From Becoming the Hottest Ticket This Season

Photo: Courtesy of Wade Austin Ellis

Last year, nearly 100 million people attended music concerts in the United States, with millions more heading out to sporting events. With concert ticket prices averaging $86 and sporting events ranging from $100-$200 (including parking and food), these events are major purchases for most.

This makes getting scammed with fake tickets particularly painful. Last year, about 12 percent of concert-goers reported being scammed, and scammers sell more than 5 million fake tickets each year through online brokers. Part of the problem is the growing sophistication of scammers, who often offer up documentation, receipts, and even face-to-face meetings. If you want your next big event to end with cheers instead of tears, there are some simple steps you can take.

Before you buy

Protecting yourself from online ticket scams starts before you click the “buy” button:

  • Avoid unofficial sites: Craigslist is always flooded with people selling tickets, but there’s simply no way to know if they’re legitimate or not. Sticking with an official reseller like Ticketmaster at least gives you clear policies on refunds and some basic protections, though keep in mind that getting back the cost of the tickets is only part of your investment, and won’t reimburse you for travel, babysitting, or other costs.
  • Don’t be blinded by deals: Scammers know you desperately want to be there and they take advantage of that. Be suspicious of too-good-to-be-true deals.
  • Start with the official box office: Many people go straight to online brokers or Craigslist, but the safest way to buy a ticket is still the venue’s official box office.
  • Take advantage of pre-sales: Many artists will give their fans access to tickets through clubs or social media accounts, giving you a trusted way to buy tickets.
  • Use a credit card: If your credit card has a rewards program, check to see if there’s a special block of tickets available through it. Even if there isn’t, buying with a credit card gives you extra financial protections in case you do get scammed. You can dispute the transaction if you used an online service and received counterfeit tickets, or no tickets at all.

After buying

You might think that once you’ve purchased your legit tickets you’re safe, but you can still be scammed:

  • Don’t post pics: Posting photos of your tickets or bar codes gives scammers the chance to steal them and use them before you can.
  • Examine your tickets: Knowing how to spot fakes can save you from being turned away the at the event and give you a leg up on getting your money back. Ask yourself if the paper stock feels right, if the printing looks blurry, or if there are discolorations in the ink, and inspect the ticket for typos and mistakes.

Don’t let fake tickets ruin your night before you even sit down. Ensuring you get the experience you pay for begins with being smart about fake tickets.

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