6 Ways to Avoid a Ticket-Selling Scam

September 08, 2015

You know that winning feeling you get after buying tickets to that special show, concert or sporting event?  Scammers know it too and will stop at nothing to make a quick buck. Before purchasing tickets, know the red flags of a ticket-selling scam. The Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC and Eastern PA is urging consumers to do their homework before purchasing tickets to an event – especially in light of the upcoming visit from Pope Francis.

Whether it is a phony listing that touts discounted tickets or street-side vendors selling fake knockoff tickets, the BBB hears of too many cases where customers think they are getting a good deal on a special event only to be left outside the venue and without the money they spent. 

With the upcoming visit from Pope Francis to the Philadelphia and Washington DC areas, your BBB is warning residents of scams surrounding the September visit and is urging those interested to only get tickets from verified sources, in most cases the archdiocese or the World Meeting of Families. Tickets will not be sold for any of the Pope Francis’s planned events, but interested residents are advised to contact Catholic parishes directly for more information. Consumers should proceed with caution before actually purchasing tickets from an unverified vendor since these tickets may be counterfeit or real but with expired bar codes.

The BBB recommends the following tips to help avoid a ticket-selling scam:

Do your research. When purchasing tickets through an online broker, look for the BBB seal on its website and check its BBB Business Review at bbb.org. Assess the company’s policy for customer satisfaction and what happens if tickets purchased through its site are fake or not as advertised.

Know the total price.  When buying tickets online, be mindful of convenience or venue fees that can raise the price. Before you make any payments, be sure it includes all charges, shipping, handling, insurance and taxes. Coupons and other discounts should be properly deducted.

If it sounds too-good-to-be-true, it probably is. The reason tickets are expensive is because they are hard to get in most cases and the chances of getting lucky and finding a deal are usually slim. If a situation sounds too-good-to-be-true, such as someone selling tickets to a popular event when tickets are rare or for much less than offered elsewhere, it probably is.

Pay with a credit card or PayPal account. Consumers should avoid paying by cash, check or wiring money to a seller. Often there is little or no way to get back your money if the tickets do not arrive, which is why scammers often do business this way. Using a credit card or PayPal account provides additional protection and the opportunity for potential reimbursement if the seller is uncooperative or does not follow through with sending the tickets.

Keep a record of your purchase. Save any information the seller gives you such as receipts, product description, delivery date, cancellation policy, privacy policy, warranties and order confirmation numbers. The information may come in handy if needing to dispute the charges.

Ask to see the seller’s proof of purchase.  If you are purchasing your tickets directly from an individual without the aid of a known online third-party, you should ask the ticket seller for proof of purchase (such as a purchase confirmation listing seats, dates of the event, etc.) that the tickets were ones purchased from an authorized source.  If they don’t offer that, don’t turn over payment.

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org/washington-dc-eastern-pa and for the latest, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To check out current scams or report a scam, visit bbb.org/scamtracker/washington-dc-eastern-pa.