Consumer tips of the month: How to avoid ticket scams

Tickets to a show / event in a hand with a black background.
Tickets to a show / event in a hand with a black background. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The blazing temperatures around the South Sound may not speak to it, but autumn is right around the corner. For many, the change of season signals an important time of year: the beginning of football season!

One of the best parts of any sports season is heading to the game to cheer on your team with thousands of other fans. Obviously to get into the game, you’ll need to purchase tickets. Many consumers turn to resold tickets to get into that oh so critical game. But with the kickoff of professional and college football season upon us, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific is advising fans to watch out for ticket scams.

According to the BBB Scam Tracker, football fans reported losing nearly $4,000 to scams last year. The most common scams around football include reselling fake or non-existent tickets through online classifieds, counterfeit merchandise, price gouging, ticket scalping, and scammers who use bots to buy thousands of tickets and resell them at inflated prices.

Whether you’re cheering for the Huskies, Cougars, Seahawks or any other team, BBB advises fans to follow this advice when purchasing tickets:

  • Pay with protection. Paying with a credit card offers consumers protection if scammed. The credit card company may be able to help obtain a refund if the tickets are fake. Be wary of online sellers that ask you to wire money and don’t accept credit cards.
  • Verify the tickets. To check the authenticity of tickets, ask for a copy of the seller’s invoice or purchasing receipt to check where the seller bought the tickets. It’s also recommended to contact the original promoter directly.
  • Check out the seller/broker. Before you decide to purchase tickets on other sites, be sure to look the seller up on bbb.org. Secure, legal sites for second-hand purchases include BBB Accredited businesses SeatGeek and Vivid Seats. These sites guarantee their consumers and sellers a secure transaction. It’s also wise to check if the seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200 percent purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company.
  • Look for secure sites. The website should begin with https (the “s” is for secure) and include a lock symbol on the address bar. Also check the official website for a phone number, physical address and email address. Be wary of sites that rely on a contact form instead of offering a customer service phone number. Contact forms make it hard to reach someone from the company.
  • Shop local. If you’re searching for ticket bargains on classified sites and apps such as Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, OfferUp and Letgo, it’s wise to meet sellers in person in a safe, public place.

Any fan who believes they are the victim of a scam is encouraged to report it to BBB Scam Tracker. For more information, consumers can visit www.bbb.org/tickets.

Lauren Hall is the Western Washington marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau based in DuPont. Reach her with consumer-related questions at lauren.hall@thebbb.org.