Football Frenzy: Tips for Avoiding a Ticket Scam

For football fans that have been looking forward to the 2016-17 season ever since the Super Bowl, the wait is over! Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California understands the excitement, since both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders are in the Bay Area! Being able to attend a live football game is exciting, but buying tickets can sometimes be risky.

Prospective game-goers can purchase tickets online through official vendors, other ticket-buying websites and individuals on social media or online classified sites. Whichever ticket buying route you choose, it’s important to be aware of the associated risks, and to know how to protect yourself from them. In 2015, BBB received over 2,500 complaints about ticket brokers and ticket sales businesses nationally. Most of these complaints were regarding difficulties acquiring refunds, inaccessible customer service and misleading advertising.

Going to a professional football game can cost a lot of money and time, so it’s especially important that you’re purchasing a valid ticket and protecting yourself from fraud. BBB offers the following five tips when purchasing football tickets:

  1. From the official vendor: The best way to buy tickets is directly from the source. Many tickets for upcoming games are still available through the official NFL website and official sites of various teams. Unfortunately, things can become riskier when games are sold out.
  2. From other websites: Make sure to understand the difference between a broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed seller) and a scammer whose tickets are simply fraudulent. Look up the seller at orgto see its BBB Business Review, which includes Customer Reviews. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers ( NATB members offer a 200% guarantee on tickets that don’t arrive in time for a game, concert or show. Only buy from vendors that you know and trust; look for trust icons and privacy policies to ensure your financial information is being protected.
  3. Before you make a purchase: Know the refund policy; it should have clear details about the terms of the transaction. BBB recommends that you always use a credit card, as it comes with additional protection. Check out the seats ahead of time: always ask for section, row and seat number to avoid obstructed view seats or seats that do not exist.
  4. In-person ticket purchases: If you’re purchasing tickets from an individual and are meeting in person to complete the transaction, be careful. Meet at a public location and ask for at least two ways that you can contact the seller. Feel free to ask questions to make certain you get all the answers you need to feel comfortable with your ticket purchase. Check to see if the ticket is real before you give any money away. Look for correct dates, professional spelling and grammar and authentic pictures and logos as well as barcodes to ensure it isn’t fraudulent. Make sure all components that you paid for are included, such as a parking pass.
  5. Sweepstakes emails and online ads: Don’t click through from emails or online ads; a common scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment; some of these ads may be scams, especially if the prices are low. Don’t open any links or attachments from unknown emails. If you receive an unsolicited message claiming you’ve won tickets or a package, don’t believe it. Remember, if you didn’t enter a contest, you didn’t win it.

Pearl is the Communications Specialist for Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California (BBB Oakland). She works to advance BBB’s vision of an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other by being proactive in the community and developing relationships with business and consumer groups. Pearl represents BBB at events throughout the Bay Area to educate a wide variety of people. Pearl also manages BBB Oakland’s social media channels.

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Posted in Consumer Tips, Scams

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