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How to avoid a sports or concert ticket scam

With most tickets now digital, scammers are finding new ways to sell you counterfeit tickets or tickets that won't scan at the gate.
Posted at 6:47 AM, Apr 14, 2023

Whether you're attending a sporting event, like a baseball game, or a concert, there are countless ways to find tickets online. But with all those options, you must be especially careful to avoid a ticketing scam.

Karen Meyer plans to take her family to a baseball game this summer. But she knows too many people who bought tickets from a reseller that didn't scan at the gate.

"I'm afraid to buy from people on the street," he said, "because I'm not sure with the price they're asking that I'm going to get a ticket that's valid in the stadium."

Matthew Terry also worries about getting burned, so he only buys from official sites.

"I just go onto the website, figure how many people are in my group, and then schedule online," he said.

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How to protect yourself

Whether you're catching a game or a summer concert, Melanie McGovern with the Better Business Bureau reminds us that most venues only accept digital tickets nowadays.

So if a seller is offering a paper ticket, it may not be real or accepted at the entrance.

"If they say, 'Hey, I'll just shoot you an email, and it's a PDF ticket,'" she warns, "a lot of times that is not the way it works anymore."

And be wary of screen grabs taken on someone's phone.

Tickets through sites like Ticketmasterwill only appear when your phone is near the ticket reader at many venues. So screenshots, which might have worked five years ago, are a no-go.

McGovern also says to check the seating chart before buying from a resale site.

"We've seen fake tickets that didn't have rows and sections that didn't exist in the venue," she said of recent complaints.

McGovern says the safest way to buy tickets is to:

- Start with the venue first, which often will direct you to Ticketmaster.

- If you're using a secondary resale site, first check to make sure it's a real business and to see how many complaints the site has.

-Know exactly how the ticket is being delivered to you.

- Find out whether it comes with protection. Some third-party sites provide guarantees against fraudulent tickets, while others do not.

Lastly, she says to watch for fake look-alike websites, such as sites that look like Ticketmaster but are not really the official site.