Summer is primetime for concert lovers, particularly with huge acts like Adele, Taylor Swift, a Kiss reunion tour and even The Beach Boys playing all over the country. But as fans scramble to get tickets, scammers are also stepping up their efforts.
According to an AARP report, every year nearly 5 million people pay for fake tickets for concerts, sporting events and theme parks.
There are even websites that let anyone generate a “novelty concert ticket” complete with bar code, event details, seat numbers and a logo that looks like (but isn’t quite spelled the same) as major vendor Ticketmaster. While this might be a cute idea for hosting a party, it’s not so fun when it’s part of a ticket scam.
Not only will you find yourself blocked from the real show, but a scammer might hand over the tickets in exchange for details on you like name, address and credit card number. That can easily lead to identity theft and other criminal activity.
When buying tickets this season, be sure to take some extra precautions:
- Skip the scalpers. Despite warnings from theaters about people selling tickets just outside the doors, these scammers are hugely successful. AARP estimates that they collect more than $4 million per month in bogus sales.
- Buy from legitimate sources. There are always plenty of tickets available on Craigslist and eBay, even for shows that sold out within minutes. That fact alone should put you on scam alert. Although there are real tickets for sale on those sites, keep in mind that the risk is high for frauds.
- Don’t click on email links and attachments. Concert ticket “deals” and phishing scams go together like partners in crime. You might be told you’ve won the tickets and have to claim them through a certain site, or that they’re part of a promotion to certain VIP contacts. If you click on a link or open the attachment, it may cause malware to be installed on your computer.
- Research less-known ticket vendors: Apart from major ticket purveyors like StubHub and Ticketmaster, there are scores of smaller ticket providers across the country. That can make it challenging to know the difference between a ticket scam and the real deal. In that case, turn to the Better Business Bureau site and research the company, paying particular attention to reviews and complaints. Another option is to find vendors through the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which requires its members to guarantee every ticket sold on their websites is legitimate.
Finally, trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true or the seller pretends to be desperate, watch out. Scammers often rely on a sense of urgency to pull people into buying fraudulent items or giving away too much information. As always, review your transactions regularly, and immediately report any that seem suspicious.