It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Snow is
finally melting in Montana, birds are tentatively chirping, and the promise of
great college hoops looms each Thursday through Sunday.
It’s March Madness, baby. Although your bracket
may already be in shambles, (you’d be a bookie’s nightmare if it wasn’t at this
point) there are plenty of games left to enjoy. And maybe, just maybe, your
alma mater’s team looks like it’s progressing toward the Sweet 16, Elite 8 or
Final 4. Or maybe, like me, your alma mater got beat in the first round (Go
Griz!) but you’d still love to see a game or two live.
Whatever the case, the frenzy and unknowns around
March Madness create a lot of last-minute chaos for fans. It’s hard to book
hotel rooms and buy tickets when you don’t know how far your team will make it
and what city they’ll play their last game. Just last year, a buddy from Helena
was scrambling to find plane tickets and accommodations to get to the
championship game in San Antonio. His team, the Villanova Wildcats, were
playing for all the marbles. But his spouse would have killed him if he bought
tickets and lodging ahead of time and his team was eliminated. On the flip
side, he was so busy looking for a good deal at the last minute, he was willing
to take just about any hotel room, flight and ticket deal.
And this is where it gets dicey. Scammers don’t
care who wins big this year, they just want to ensure you lose money, to them.
Fake tickets are being hocked online for every stage of the tournament. The
secondary ticket market – AKA scalping – is a multi-billion dollar industry
that remains hard to regulate. Last year, the BBB received nearly 400
complaints from victims of ticketing scams.
Before you click “buy now” on that screaming
ticket deal, call a time out. Check out these tips before you buy so that you
can enjoy your team’s Cinderella story victory rather than being stuck in the
parking lot with fake tickets.
- Purchase from the venue whenever possible, in this case:
- Consider your source. Know the difference between a
professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket
scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling
- Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on bbb.org to
learn what other customers have experienced. Check to see if they are a member
of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200%
purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.com to
confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company.
- Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors
you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a
secure purchasing system. Don’t click through from emails or online ads; a
common ticket scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a
- Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets
from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the
transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the
location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference
to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access
to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick
- Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a
credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit
cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are
fraudulent, you won’t be able to get your money back.
- Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for
online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good
judgment; some of these ads are going to be ticket scams, especially if the
prices are low.
- If you’re unsure, verify your tickets. Pay a visit to the
arena where the event will be held. Present your ticket to “Will Call”
(customer service) and they can verify if your ticket is legitimate and show
you how to tell if a ticket is fake.
Remember that buying tickets from scalpers is
risky. The only way to ensure your tickets to March Madness are real is buying
from the official NCAA ticket exchange.
you or someone you know if the victim of a scam, please report it at bbb.org/scamtracker. The more we know about how
these scammers scam, the better we can protect consumer before they become