Imagine after waiting outside in line for what feels like a lifetime, you’re stopped at the venue’s security gate only to be told your ticket is fake. My absolute worst nightmare. So here’s how fans can spot ticket scammers and avoid ticket fraud.
What is a Ticket Selling Scam?
Users on marketplace websites like Craigslist and eBay have been selling fraudulent tickets for events since the beginning of time. According to CNBC, 12% of people fall victim to ticket scammers through social media and marketplace sites. Ticket selling scams happen when a scammer uses tickets as bait to steal your money. The biggest two types of ticket scams are: scammers sell you fake tickets or after you pay for a ticket you never receive it.
Here are 3 ways ticket scammers can take advantage of the situation:
- Charging prices MUCH higher than the face value of a ticket.
- Selling duplicates of legitimate tickets and reselling to multiple buyers.
- Creating counterfeit tickets with invalid barcodes.
The Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Ticket Fraud
The safest move is to purchase tickets directly from the venue at the box office or from authorized ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster, Live Nation, SeatGeek and TicketFly. If you are unsure if an online seller is trustworthy, run a quick Google search with the [name of company] + words such as fraud, scam, fake tickets, etc.
If you do purchase concert tickets from an individual, ask the seller to send you proof of purchase. This can either be a screenshot of the ticket with the barcode covered up or a screenshot of the confirmation email sent from the original purchase or both. Make sure you see the tickets BEFORE paying for them.
Use a credit card to pay third party sellers. Unlike services like Venmo or CashApp, credit cards typically offer protection if you need to dispute a charge. Do not, and I mean DO NOT under any circumstances, wire transfer money to pay for tickets.
Facebook event pages are a great source to receive important show information and updates. Plus, it allows you to connect with other fans planning on attending that show. However, it’s a prime spot for scammers to attempt to sell you fake or nonexistent tickets.
When you open up virtually any concert or festival’s Facebook event page discussion tab, you’ll see a number of posts from users trying to sell their tickets. The key is to keep an eye out for the verbiage and language the posters use. Although the pages may look real, there are certain words and phrases that will stand out. Here are a couple of examples of scam posts:
Most often, they allude to family emergencies or use words like “cheap” “reduced” and “discount” to entice desperate fans looking for last minute tickets. And notice how they never mention the section or area the seats are located in. Trust me, the seller will disappear the second you transfer them money on PayPal. These fake profiles and accounts are run by scammers who copy and paste the same message to popular shows in multiple cities hoping to bait a few desperate fans.
Where to Buy
Ticketmaster North America’s Chief Product Officer shared that ticket fraud has affected nearly 5 million event attendees every year. So the motto when purchasing tickets is ‘better safe than sorry’! You’d be surprised how many people purchase tickets for sections that are nonexistent. It takes 5 minutes max to view a seating chart on a venue’s website. You can also call the venue to identify any third-party ticket vendors they trust.
No luck with that route? Ask a friend! You’d be surprised how many times someone in your circle has an extra ticket they’re looking to sell. Plus, it’s easier to deal with a mutual friend instead of a stranger online.
Websites like Ticketmaster and Stubhub confirm that the tickets being resold on their ticketing platforms are legitimatie. If you purchase a ticket through those websites, they are guaranteed to work or you get your money back. StubHub’s FanProtect Guarantee specifically states they will go out of their way to find replacement tickets if there is an issue with your order.
With that being said, before purchasing tickets to any event, make sure you know the ticket refund policy and service fees. Identify the terms and how you will be refunded if the tickets are forgeries. Also, see if the site offers ticket insurance and what it covers.
Got scammed? Report it!
- Contact your state consumer protection office.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the Online Complaint Assistant.
- File a local police report, especially if you met the scammer in person or have a picture of them to give the police.
- File a complaint about a ticket company using the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.
- If you paid by credit card, report the problem to the card company. You may be able to dispute the charge.
My best advice? Use your best judgment! If something feels off or in any way sketchy, don’t go through with the transaction. Trust me, I KNOW what it feels like to have your favorite band in your city but it will hurt 10x more after you lose your money AND miss the show due to fake tickets!
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