March Madness is officially upon us! The NCAA Tournament brackets have been set meaning all of the annual bracket pool challenges and contests are going to be popping up everywhere this week. And we know that it can be easy to get caught up in the, ahem, madness of it all, but be wary: Scammers are on the prowl, making what looks like a slam dunk turn into an airball. Here are five tips on how to box out potential scams.
1. Make it official.
When looking to buy anything, whether it happens to be tickets, merchandise, or even looking into a hotel room if you’re traveling to a game, fact-check. Look into official NCAA ticket information before purchasing tickets, and make sure to buy merchandise directly from official vendors, like the team or school’s website.
2. Too good to be true? It probably is.
We know it’s tempting to buy those super-cheap front-row seats, or that ultra-cool signed jersey, but it’s very possible that you’re getting set up by a scammer. Use common sense when looking for deals! If you’re planning to buy from a new ticket vendor and you’re not sure it’s legitimate, you can contact Michigan’s Consumer Protection Division to inquire about past complaints.
3. Don’t be fooled by pools.
Entering into a bracket pool is fine, so long as you know the full rules of the contest and who exactly you’re giving your money to before you enter. And sometimes downloading bracket-related files can lead to malware on your computer, compromising personal information and your computer’s functionality.
4. Don’t get personal.
The last thing you should do is give your personal information out if you’re worried about the legitimacy of something. Whenever possible, don’t input your credit card information online; use trusted third-party sites, like PayPal, when making purchases over the Internet. If that’s not an option, make sure the website you’re purchasing from is secure; generally speaking, there should be a padlock symbol and “https://” in the address bar (if you’re using Google Chrome, it’ll show up in green!). Even if the website it secured, don’t use your debit card; it’s much safer to use your credit card as credit card companies will often refund fraudulent transactions.
5. Run it by the BBB.
If you’re planning to buy from a seller that you haven’t bought from previously, check out their legitimacy at BBB.org; you can read reviews left for them previously by other consumers. If you come across a sketchy business, you can leave your own Customer Review or report it using BBB's Scam Tracker, helping to prevent other people from falling for the same cons in the future.
Make sure you keep all of the aforementioned in mind this March Madness and know that BBB hopes that a team from the great state of Michigan brings home the National Championship this year!