Avoid the March Madness Madness

March 06, 2017

Marlborough, MA - March Madness starts on Tuesday, March 14th this year, and BBB is advising fans to exercise caution when buying tickets over the next several weeks. How far a team goes in the NCAA tournament is often unpredictable, but one thing fans can control is the security of their ticket purchases.

Large sporting events are hotbeds for scammers looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting customers. The high cost of attending an event like March Madness leads consumers to scour the Internet for the best deals. Scammers and shady businesses take advantage of this opportunity to capitalize on tickets that may not even exist.

“Ticket scams are easy to spot by low prices on unbelievable seats, third-party sellers with no guarantees, or phony websites that look similar to legitimate sites,” says Paula Fleming, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at the local BBB. “But for those who aren’t aware of scams such as these, it can be easy to walk right into a trap.”

Don't let con artists foul up your plans. BBB offers the following tips to make sure you get what you pay for during March Madness:


  • Check out the official NCAA ticket information at ncaa.com/tickets.

  • If you buy a ticket outside the event, remember there are usually no refunds or guarantees. Research the ticket site or seller to see if it provides any buyer protections, such as money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. Always read the fine print.

  • If you’re buying tickets online, ask for a picture of the tickets so you can confirm the tickets match the venue.

  • Be wary of ticket offers at extreme discount prices, these are most likely too good to be true.

Team Merchandise:

  • Buy directly from the team or league websites, official vendors at the stadium or other trusted stores. It’s okay to be skeptical of impostor brands. Sadly, they are out there waiting for events like this to prey on hopeful fans.

  • Watch out for unsolicited emails from pop-up Internet shops selling gear for your favorite squad. If you don't wish to receive emails from a business in question, opt to unsubsubscribe from their list. Replying to emails like this will confirm you’re using a working address and will likely get you in regular rotation for their spam.

  • Beware of phony websites that appear to sell official team merchandise but are only after your credit card number.

  • Do your due diligence before clicking "buy now.” Confirm details like a promised delivery time and refund or return policies.

General Tips:

  • Before using an outside seller, check them out at bbb.org. Also, look for reviews from fellow consumers who have used the same site. Have they received any complaints for selling counterfeit or copycat items?

  • Avoid using sites such as Craigslist, which offers no guarantees or seller identification.

  • Make sure the website is secure before you make a purchase online (look for the padlock and ‘https’ in the address bar).

  • Ask the seller where he or she is located and how to contact him or her after the sale. If the seller is evasive or provides fraudulent contact info, do not pursue the offer.

  • Never wire money or pay with a cashier’s check. There is no way of getting your money back with these options.

  • Always use a credit card. Your credit card company can help you obtain a refund if the offer is fake or the tickets are never received.

  • If you do come across a fraudulent business, sharing your experience will help other diehard fans avoid the con.

  • Be careful when booking a hotel if you’re traveling to see a game. Ask for all details about the hotel, including address and confirmation number and call the hotel to verify that the room exists.

For more information, visit us at bbb.org/boston or like us on Facebook.

ABOUT BBB:  For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, all available for free at bbb.org 

The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont was founded in 1920.
Paula Fleming is Chief Marketing & Sales Officer for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT.  Find Paula on Google+.