Do your homework before buying tickets online to avoid overpaying or being scammed

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If you’re a music lover, you may find yourself looking for last-minute deals on late summer festivals or tickets to a sold-out show. However, junk fees, resale pricing for high-demand shows and unscrupulous sellers can all make ticket prices skyrocket.

You should also keep an eye out for counterfeit tickets. You’re more likely to run into scams when you buy resale tickets from people outside the venue, on the street, or through online auctions, classified ads or social media. Scammers may also impersonate the websites, emails or phone numbers of well-known ticket vendors.

Because of this, ticket sales are the source of thousands of BBB consumer complaints. However, doing your homework in advance makes it less likely that you will be targeted by a scam or overpay for your tickets.

Here’s how to protect your concert ticket purchase and avoid overpaying:

  • Buy from the venue. This is the best way to make sure you get a real ticket at a fair price. Many venues now offer resale options, too.
  • Use reputable sellers. If you aren’t purchasing directly from the venue, the next safest option is a trusted vendor. You can look up the seller on BBB.org to check for BBB Accreditation and read reviews, or look for BBB’s seal on the seller’s website. You can also check to see if the seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which offers a 200 percent purchase guarantee on tickets.
  • Buying resale? Major vendors like Live Nation or TicketMaster will protect your resale purchase by invalidating the original ticket and creating a new bar code for you, ensuring you are the only person who can use the resale ticket. If you’re buying resale tickets from an individual, be cautious and aware that you won’t have the protections major companies can provide.
  • Compare prices. It pays to shop around. Look for vendors who offer transparent pricing and disclose fees in advance. Before you compare prices, navigate to the checkout page to see a breakdown of costs and avoid surprise fees. Beware of online ads for tickets at extremely low prices, especially if they’re for a very popular or sold-out event, as these may be scams.
  • Review policies before you buy. Check the seller’s website to find out how they handle returns, transfers and refunds in the event that your ticket is fraudulent.
  • Use a credit card. That way, you have some recourse if your tickets are fraudulent. You won’t be able to get your money back if you use cash or debit. Beware of sellers who ask you to leave a major platform to pay them or use unusual payment methods like wiring money or sending gift cards.
  • Protect your payment. Look for “https://” and a small closed lock icon at the start of the URL when you go to pay on a vendor’s website. This means their payment processing system is secure.
  • Verify your tickets. You can present your ticket to Will Call, or customer service, at the physical venue ahead of the event to check that it’s legitimate.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or (217) 209-3972.

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