Ticket scams are no joke. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars to see a sports game or their favorite artist at Coachella, only to realize the tickets they bought were fake and they won’t be attending the event. Being duped like that is one of the worst feelings.
The Better Business Bureau received 16,884 total complaints regarding event ticket sales — that includes concerts and sporting events — from January 2022 through February 2023.
The repercussions of a concert or game day scam go beyond simply missing the event. If you pay for a phony ticket with your credit card, you could be compromising your personal information and putting yourself at risk of identity theft. “You’re out your money, you’re out your personal information, and now you can’t go to the show,” Melanie McGovern, director of PR and social media at BBB, said.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent scams from raining on your NBA playoff game or Taylor Swift Eras Tour concert. McGovern walked me through the essential tips for spotting scams and what you should do if you bought a fraudulent ticket.
For more ticket advice, here’s how you can buy concert tickets on TikTok.
Stop and think
Whenever a widely regarded artist comes to town or there’s loads of hype over a sports game, fans race to snag the best seats for the event as quickly as they can. To take advantage of fan interest, fake websites for buying tickets or fake listings will pop up on secondary ticket sites to prey on the desperate customers.
“There’s so much emotion involved in buying tickets for something that you love that people just don’t think [when they’re purchasing],” McGovern said. That leads them to throwing logic out the window and jumping at the first offer they see. The first thing you should do when buying tickets is stop and think logically about what and who you’re buying from.
How to find legitimate concert or game tickets
When in doubt, always head to the official venue site for tickets. If you end up searching for tickets to a game in your city, McGovern recommends avoiding any sponsored ticket listings that pop up at the top of the page and, instead, scrolling until you find an official ticket broker or venue site. Sponsored ticket listings are more likely to be fraudulent, she says. Check the name of the website for any minor misspellings, too. Frauds can create lookalike sites with one or two misspellings to try and trick you into buying from them instead of official and secure websites.
What about tickets on the resale market?
Let’s say the tickets on the venue’s website are all sold out and you resort to the resale market. There are still a few ways to avoid getting duped by scams.
To see if the ticket broker is legitimate, look up the seller on the Better Business Bureau’s website and the National Association of Ticket Brokers member directory. Ticket sellers should have a customer protection policy, be registered with the NATB or both, the BBB said. If your seller isn’t, consider it a red flag and find somebody else.
While perusing ticket options on secondary sites, have the seating chart of the venue open in another window, McGovern recommended. The “biggest telltale sign” you’re getting scammed is if the seats you are being sold don’t match up with the venue’s seats and rows, McGovern said.
How to make sure the tickets you bought aren’t fake
Many venues primarily use digital tickets now, which can make it easier to get scammed with counterfeit ticket PDFs. To ensure that the tickets are real if you bought them from someone else, it doesn’t hurt to visit the venue a few days before the concert to ensure to check. Also check the format in which the venue accepts and scans tickets. If someone sold you a paper copy of a ticket but the venue exclusively accepts digital tickets, you just got scammed.
Immediate concert and gameday ticket red flags
If the deal is too good to be true, most of the time it likely is. If someone is selling Beyonce Renaissance tickets for half the retail price or Super Bowl tickets for $100, that’s cause for concern. If someone is using a sob story to advertise their tickets, it may be a scam as well. McGovern said that online scams all “have the same MO of tugging at your heartstrings and getting you to act quickly without thinking.”
How can I protect myself?
Beyond all the aforementioned tips and red flags to look out for, McGovern recommends always buying tickets with a credit card, instead of less secure forms of payment (like peer-to-peer payment apps). “If you’re buying a ticket from a person online and they’re asking you for a peer-to-peer payment app, there’s a good chance you’re not gonna get that money back,” she said.
For more, here are the best credit cards right now.
I just got scammed. What should I do?
File a complaint using the BBB’s reporting tool. If your complaint is in line with the BBB’s complaint acceptance criteria, your complaint will be sent to the business that scammed you within 14 days. This may not work for all scams.
For more info on how to avoid being swindled, read about how to spot Social Security scams.