It’s that time of the year again: Both the NBA and NHL finals are near, and all your favorite bands are on tour — which means tickets might be scarce. Scammers know you might be desperate for a good deal, however, so be prepared to do battle.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office has some advice after fielding complaints from people who reported finding tickets for sale online and sending the sellers money, but receiving nothing in return.
Other scammers print counterfeit paper tickets, which unsuspecting folks then try to use when they arrive at their event, only to be turned away. As you can imagine, that can turn into quite a nightmare, especially if you’ve spent money booking travel and accommodations and all your friends are going into the stadium without you.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
• If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Put on your skepticism hat — a ticket that’s being sold at face value for a sold-out or popular event may be scams. Phony sellers might offer up an explanation for why they’re selling the ticket so cheap so close to the event, like a medical emergency or military duty.
• Beware third-party sellers. Only deal with reputable businesses like licensed ticket resellers and not any other individuals who aren’t associated with an event. Before you hand over any payment or personal information, do your research and check out the seller’s reputation online: Search using the seller’s name, username, email address, and/or telephone number along with words like “reviews,” “scam,” “fake tickets,” or “counterfeit tickets.” Just because you don’t find anything negative doesn’t mean the seller is trustworthy, however, as scammers can easily change names online.
• Read up on the venue’s ticket policies. Many venues favor electronic tickets these days, but if you’re trying to use a paper ticket, give both sides of it a good once-over: Look for signs things like illegible text, uneven margins, or weird smudges — fake tickets often have the wrong information on them and may include a photocopied barcode, or fake photos and logos.
• Look out for sellers who request specific forms of payment. Are they asking only for wire transfer, prepaid money card, cash, or gift card? Those are all payment methods scammers like, because they’re difficult to trace. If you’re paying online, only use sites that begin with “https” as that means the site is secure and your credit card and billing information will be protected from being intercepted by a third party.
• Consider paying with a credit card if you can. That way if there are any problems, you can dispute the charges with your issuer.
• Research other payment methods. If you’re paying with a mobile wallet or peer-to-peer payment system like Venmo, make sure you’re clear on what protections — if any — the service provides before send that money.