Buying tickets online to a sporting event? Be wary of counterfeit tickets, other scams

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QUINCY — Sports fans have a lot to appreciate right now with the baseball, UFL and soccer seasons in full swing – but be on the lookout for counterfeits and scams when buying tickets.

There’s plenty of team spirit to go around this spring and summer, and buying online is the easiest way for many people to get tickets to their favorite team’s game. If possible, it’s safest to buy tickets directly from a venue or on the team’s official website.

However, sometimes it makes sense to buy resale tickets. Online ticket marketplaces and resellers can help you get tickets to a sold-out event or at a discount.

Unfortunately, not all ticket sources are trustworthy. It’s easy to fall for fake ticket scams online, or even to simply overpay for a resale ticket.

Ticket sales are the source of thousands of complaints to BBB. We recommend being cautious if you’re planning to buy tickets from someone you don’t know personally. And before you use an unfamiliar ticket company, search BBB.org to see its rating, whether the company is BBB Accredited and if past customers have submitted any reviews or complaints.

BBB’s tips to help you shop safely so you can enjoy the game:

  • Purchase from the venue. This is the best way to make sure you get a legitimate ticket. Many official ticket sales agents now offer resale options, too.
  • Know your source. If you aren’t purchasing directly from the venue, the next safest option is a legitimate vendor – especially one verified by third parties like BBB or professional organizations. You can look up the seller on BBB.org to check for BBB Accreditation and read reviews. 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.
  • Buy resale tickets from a source that also sells primary tickets. These vendors will create an entirely new bar code when you buy a resale ticket, which ensures you are the only person who can use it. Beware of ticket scalpers (unregulated, unlicensed ticket sellers) and use caution when buying a ticket from someone you don’t know personally.
  • Verify trust. When using a resale website, check to make sure it has a secure purchase system by looking for the lock symbol or “https://” in the web address.
  • Don’t click on links to resale websites in emails or ads. One common scam is to create a web address that looks like it belongs to a well-known company and use it to sell fake tickets.
  • 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.
  • Know the refund policy. Only buy from resellers that provide clear details about the terms of purchase and refund policy. Before you pay, sellers should tell you the location of your seats and when you will receive the tickets.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You may see online ads for tickets at extremely low prices. Use your best judgment — these may be scams, especially if the source isn’t well-known.
  • Verify your tickets. You can present your ticket to Will Call, or customer service, at the physical venue to make sure it is real.
  • Download or print your ticket before you reach the venue. Internet connections can be spotty in crowded event venues, and it might be hard to load the ticket on your device when you get there.
  • Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect fans like you.

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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