How to Avoid Counterfeit Ticket Scams

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The Federal Trade Commission is getting complaints from people who, unknowingly, have bought counterfeit tickets to concerts and other events. Don't miss-out on your favorite event by falling for a counterfeit ticket scam.

Two Tickets from Parasites (Don't Get Scammed on Your Way to the Show)

Your favorite band is in town and you are ready to rock. Sure, tickets may be sold out at the box office -- but that's no big deal: An ad online says great seats still are available. Whoa, Nellie! Scammers know how badly you want to see that show.

Here's how to avoid a scammer's song and dance:

If possible, plan. Check concert dates way in advance, so you can buy tickets directly from the venue or the event promoter, either online or at the box office.

If you are buying from a reseller, find one associated with the original ticket seller, the venue, or the concert promoter. You may pay more for the tickets, but buying from a legitimate reseller minimizes the likelihood of buying counterfeit tickets.

If your only option seems to be buying from a random social media or classified ad website, taking these precautions may help you spot counterfeit tickets, avoid losing money, and be present at an event you're looking forward to:

* Never wire money to buy tickets. A stranger asking you to wire money for anything probably is trying to scam you. Wiring money is like sending cash: Once you send it, it's gone, and you can't trace who got it.  

    * Research the seller. Check out reviews from people who have bought from this seller. Search the seller's name and/or username with terms like "scam," "counterfeit tickets" or "complaint."  Go deep into the results.

    * Use payment methods that come with buyer protections. If possible, use credit cards or trusted e-commerce sites that provide accounts you can use to make purchases instead of using banking information.

    * Examine your tickets.  Many authentic tickets have a hologram or layer of colored paper between the front and back indicating its authenticity; hold the ticket to the light and check for these features. You also may want to contact the venue or event promoter directly for tips on spotting a phony ticket.

    * Check the seating chart of the venue when you examine the tickets. Do the seats actually exist? 

If you've lost money to a counterfeit ticket broker, file a complaint with the FTC.

The writer of this blog post is Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC Consumer Information --Money & Credit Blog.
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