Ticket fraud is more common than you might think.
We’ll kick off this article with a startling statistic: more than 5 million people receive “fake” tickets every year, or tickets to a fake event.
You might buy a counterfeit ticket to a popular concert or sporting event, pay money to someone who disappears before providing you with tickets, or even purchase a ticket to an event that never officially existed.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from these various ticketing and event scams? Fortunately, there are many strategies to keep you—and your money—safe.
10 Top Strategies to Avoid Ticketing Scams, Fake Tickets, and Fake Festivals
These are some of the best strategies you can use to avoid ticketing scams altogether:
1. Prioritize well-known ticket sellers.
First, try to get your tickets from well-known ticket authorities. You can almost always get tickets safely from the venue you’re going to visit, or from reputable third-party brokers like Ticketmaster or StubHub. Most of these sites have protective measures in place to ensure you get a refund if necessary, and can all but guarantee your ticket’s legitimacy.
Just make sure you double check the URL when buying.
2. Get contact information in advance.
No matter where you buy your ticket, get some contact information you can use in case something isn’t right with the ticket or event. Most major online ticket dealers have customer service lines you can call if there’s a problem with your ticket. And if you’re buying from an individual, make sure to get their name and phone number.
3. Research the event.
Before buying anything, do some research on the event. Call the venue if you must. A quick Google search should be all you need to find a press release on the event, and multiple high-authority sites verifying the event’s existence. It’s a nice backup measure to protect you against fake events.
4. Avoid scalpers.
At most events, there will be scalpers waiting to sell excess or unwanted tickets to hopeful attendees. Though they may be able to offer you a decent deal, it’s best to avoid them. There’s no federal law against scalping, but many states have restrictions about how and when tickets can be resold. But few scalpers are in strict compliance with these rules, and you won’t get any protection if you’re tricked with a counterfeit or invalid ticket.
5. Get an accompaniment.
If you do buy tickets from a scalper, or someone else you meet in person, consider asking them to accompany you to the gate. That way, you can verify your ability to get into the venue, and if your seller has provided you with an invalid ticket, you can make sure justice is served.
6. Check your tickets.
When you get your tickets, look at them closely. Does the information on the ticket (including the event title, the venue, the start time, and other details) match the information that’s been previously provided? Are there any security features you can look for, such as watermarks or signature features? Again, a quick Google search can help you figure out what to look for.
7. Check invoices and paperwork.
If you’re buying an expensive ticket, like a season pass, ask to see the seller’s invoice and/or original paperwork. A simple screenshot of their original purchase may be enough to verify the ticket’s legitimacy.
8. Get personal information (and credibility).
If you’re buying from an individual, see if you can verify their personal information. Finding them on social media, or seeing their ID may be a positive indication that you’re working with someone legitimate—and might give you information to use against them if they provide you with a fake ticket.
9. Meet in person.
When buying tickets from someone you found online, always exchange tickets in person. Agreeing to pay for the ticket, then waiting for it to be shipped, is a gamble. You should be there to inspect the ticket before you finalize the transaction.
10. Pay with a credit card.
If you’re going to pay, make sure you pay with a credit card or with a secure service like PayPal. Most credit card companies offer free fraud detection and/or protection, ensuring that you’ll be refunded if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase. If you’re asked to pay in cash, or with a direct money transfer, it might be better to avoid the transaction altogether.
Looking to the Future
Soon, new technologies may be able to mitigate the threat of fake ticketing and fake events, including blockchain technology to secure financial transactions, or anti-counterfeiting measures on printed or digital tickets. Until then, it’s your job to proactively identify potential threats, and use the aforementioned strategies to buy your tickets confidently.
Sometimes, a few extra minutes of research and a natural sense of distrust are all it takes to keep you protected.
Image by Dennis Crowley (CC by 2.0)