‘Tis the time of year for ticket scams: 5 ways to spot the fakes

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You drive, Uber or take public transportation to the ballgame and present your coveted ticket to the front gate attendant only to be told that it’s bogus, not valid, a no-go.

Ever happened to you? If not, then it may be just a matter of time.

That’s because ticket scammers are evolving their methods to trick computer systems, along with unknowing event attendees. As the college football playoff and bowl season rolls around, it’s a good time to be reminded of the myriad ticket scams going on these days.

In several cities with big games, officials are warning of bigger scams. For example, in Atlanta, fans looking for tickets to the SEC Championship this weekend between the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide will want to be on the lookout for fraudsters.

Buyer beware: Fake sporting event tickets on the rise

“Atlanta will soon host a number of big sporting events, including the SEC Championship game, Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, Super Bowl LIII, and a potential Atlanta United championship match,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr says on that state’s Consumer Protection Unit website. “We don’t want a single fan to be duped by con artists and have to miss any of these important match-ups.”

Ticket scams are such a big problem that the SEC has released some reminders of what to look out for in resellers.

“There are key distinguishing features to look for when purchasing tickets on the secondary market. Valid tickets will have an authentic SEC holographic foil strip located on the back of the ticket,” the SEC says. “Within the foil, letters of the words ‘Southeastern Conference’ and SEC circle logos should appear and disappear when slowly rotating the ticket back and forth. Also, the white yard lines and the lettering on the front of the ticket are embossed and can be felt by rubbing a finger over those areas.”

The SEC says Mercedes-Benz Stadium will have a “Ticket Validation Window” at the main box office of the stadium beginning at 10 a.m. on game day.

Georgia Attorney General Carr told local National Public Broadcasting affiliate WABE in Atlanta that legit ticket resellers should be registered with the state and backed by the Better Business Bureau, which stipulates that such firms go through a criminal background check.

“You can check to see if a site is accredited through the Better Business Bureau. And in Georgia, ticket brokers must be registered with the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission,” he said.


5 ways  to spot fake sports tickets

While the SEC will be vigilant about rooting out bogus tickets, here are more general ways to spot the real from the fake:

  • Holograms not quite right: Many tickets today come with hologram images. Look at a genuine ticket to compare the differences in the images and you may be able to spot flaws in the hologram.
  • Type of paper: Many tickets will have a perforated edge (or course, not if you self-print) so be wary of those that don’t. Also, scrutinize the paper quality of the ticket. Is it photo paper stock? If so, don’t buy it.
  • The printing is off: Crooks have some of the same technology that the real ticket-issuers use, but in many cases because they’re working in clandestine labs and not industrial-level printing operations, they are essentially printing rush jobs. These quickies will oftentimes have printing that is blurry or off-center (front or backside). Again, it’s a good idea to know what a real ticket looks like before buying one from a reseller.
  • Serial numbers: Know how many numbers should be in the barcode of a ticket. If there should be 11 digits, make sure there are that many and not 12 or fewer than 11. Also ask to see two tickets so you can make sure that the serial numbers aren’t the same.
  • Typos and grammatical errors: Look for subtle keys that could indicate a fake ticket, like incorrect language, and be especially mindful of fine print that may say things like “No Refund” instead of “No Refunds.”

Popular ticket resale sites are doing what they can to warn people of the many scams out there. Craigslist has a Fraud Guide that highlights some ways to verify genuine tickets such as asking for a copy of the seller’s invoice stating the tickets have been completely paid for. Also, the site says, “Always meet in person, if possible. Pay with a cashier’s check versus a personal check, protects your account information.”

Ticket resale site StubHub promises to make every attempt to find replacement tickets if there is an issue with your order. The company also guarantees a full refund if your event is canceled and not rescheduled.

Finally, the BBB website recommends looking to see whether the reseller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. That organization’s members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. All NATB members can be found on VerifiedTicketSource.com.

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