St. Louis Cardinal fans’ excitement can help carry their team to an 11th World Series title. However, it also can lead to scams that cost them big money.
“Sports fans can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” said Michelle L. Corey in a statement issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Corey is the president and CEO of the organization, which warns consumers against scams and fraud.
The secondary market for sports and entertainment tickets is a $10 billion a year industry. But during last year’s World Series, scams involved counterfeit tickets or tickets that never arrived, said Chris Thetford, vice president for communications for the St. Louis area BBB.
“Basically, there’s two places you need to be careful about buying tickets— online or the commercial transaction on the sidewalk,” Thetford said.
“With the sophistication of printers these days, you can pay a bunch of money for a ticket that looks just like everyone else’s ticket, get up to the gate and have that ticket kicked out because the bar code isn’t real. It’s a fake ticket,” Thetford said.
The BBB’s database includes reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake.
Those retailers include the Cardinals’ ticket office, which resells season ticket owners’ tickets, and retailers such as Stub Hub. Their ticket resale methods have several ways to ensure fans don’t get stuck with a fake ticket.
“With legitimate retailers like Stub Hub, consumers are protected because the ticket seller also has to give a valid credit card number, so if the ticket is counterfeit or doesn’t arrive, they can charge the seller’s credit card and give a refund to the buyer,” Thetford said.
Because the ticket buyers also can buy with a credit card, they can prevent the payment from going through by alerting their credit card company.
“If they’re going through Craig’s List or eBay, people have to be much more careful,” Thetford said.
The BBB also offers the following tips to avoid scams for fans seeking tickets:
- Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren’t real, the seller will be long gone.
- Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for the BBB logo on the website and click on it to make sure it is real. The BBB’s dynamic seal will take you directly to the BBB Business Review on the company, where you can read about the company’s record for responding to complaints. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by “https://” at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
- If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
- Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a “private” transaction. Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.
- If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, never pay the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit.