If you’re excited about seeing an adored artist or important game, it might be easier to miss red flags when buying tickets online. Scalpers generally have real tickets to sell while scammers do not, said Katherine Hutt, a national spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau. Both are financially motivated and use a combination of scarcity and immediacy to lure consumers.
“The solution for both is somewhat the same,” said Hutt. “Make sure you know you who are buying your tickets from.”
1. Buy ahead of time from the venue
Ticket prices, as well as the likelihood of fraud, go up as the event nears, according to a recent report by Riskified, an online fraud prevention company.
Buying as early as possible means you have a lower chance of purchasing tickets that are fake or have an inflated price. Purchasing directly from the venue or on a verified site such as Ticketmaster is your best bet, said Hutt.
If you’re looking for a reseller, buy from a site with its own consumer protection policy, such as StubHub, or one registered with the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which offers a money back guarantee, said Hutt.
2. Know the ticket value
If there’s an event you’re dying to see and you can’t get tickets from the venue, name your price before looking at resale sites, said Campbell from StubHub.
On most sites, it is up to the seller to price the ticket and it may be marked up from the original amount, Campbell said. Do a little research with online tools such as seating charts and price trackers to make sure you’re paying a fair price.
“If you do see a price you’re happy with, go for it,” Campbell said.
3. Purchase with a credit card and transfer digitally
Using a credit card to buy tickets gives you an added layer of protection, Hutt said. If you discover that you have been the victim of a scam, the credit card company can help recoup your money.
If you’re able to have tickets digitally transferred to you through a platform like Ticketmaster’s fan to fan exchange, you will know that they’ve been reverified, said Burleigh from Ticketmaster. That’s better than buying a paper ticket on a street corner, said Burleigh.
4. Check the tickets and don’t share online
If you’re worried that the tickets you’ve purchased are fake, an easy way to check is to call the box office and ask them to verify. You can do this as soon as you have the tickets in hand or online.
“Especially if you’re giving them as gifts, you want to check them out ahead of time,” Hutt said.
A lot of people get excited when their tickets arrive and post a picture on social media, said Campbell from StubHub.
“A barcode can be very easily replicated and if someone uses that barcode before you, your ticket won’t work,” said Campbell. If you do want to share, cover up the barcode and any other personal information.
5. Report scams
You can also check for scams by searching for reviews of ticket vendors or brokers online, said Hutt from the Better Business Bureau. You can also report a scam through the Federal Trade Commission, or through the BBB’s scam tracker.