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Buying Tickets Online? Avoid Scams

by Miranda Marquit

My husband and I buy tickets online all the time. From professional sports games to concerts to local movies, we get almost all of our tickets online.

Buying tickets online can add a level of convenience to your transaction. On top of that, it’s sometimes possible to get a good deal when you buy online. We’ve been able to get good seats to NBA and MLB games just by purchasing secondhand from season ticket holders. For one game, we were able to save about $100 per ticket off the “face value.”

When you purchase online, though, you have to watch out for scams. Scammers lie in wait, ready to strike with fake tickets, or even by claiming to have tickets before disappearing with your money and not even bothering with counterfeits.

So, how can you reduce the chances that you will be taken in by a scam when you buy tickets online? Here are some tips:

Buy from “Official” Sources

buying tickets online

Do you buy tickets online?

One of the best ways to get online tickets is to buy from “official” sources. This works well if you are buying your tickets firsthand. We recently bought tickets via Smith’sTIX, and many venues have their own online ticketing capabilities — or at least send you someplace official.

Even buying secondhand, though, it’s possible to reduce the chances of being taken in when you use respected resources. We use StubHub for our sporting event tickets, and even for other event tickets. Buying tickets secondhand can allow you to see a sold out show, or get seats that are normally reserved for others. You can even find hard to get tickets, including Super Bowl tickets, if you are prepared to spend enough.

The reason that we use a site like StubHub (and sometimes FlashSeats) for secondhand tickets is due to the fact that these sites often have protections in place for consumers. When a ticket seller at StubHub listed the wrong seat numbers on an order we made, we received a partial refund, since the seats weren’t what we expected. Big name sites can provide a layer of protection that can be sorely needed.

Consider Your Payment Method

It’s somewhat discouraging that this has to be reiterated, but people still fall victim to money wiring scams. If you are asked to wire the money for the tickets you buy, stay away. If you are asked to send money via Western Union or MoneyGram for tickets, don’t complete the deal. It’s one thing to wire money to someone you actually know and trust; it’s another to wire money to a stranger.

Instead, consider buying tickets through major sites that have a dispute process. Even eBay can be a good choice, since you can dispute the purchase and get your money back. PayPal also has a process that allows you to lobby for a refund if you don’t get the tickets you are promised. When paying for tickets, use these methods of payment to avoid disclosing too much personal information, and to keep the lines open for the recovery of your funds if you don’t get the tickets, or if they turn out to be fake.

Watch Out for Deals that are Too Good to Be True

Do a gut check before you agree to send money for tickets. If you see an eBay listing that claims that someone has 50 tickets for a sold-out concert, alarm bells might be going off — especially if the price seems really low (and even if the price seems high). Who has 50 tickets to a sold-out event?

Also watch out for prices that seem a little too reasonable to be believed. Find out why the seller wants to unload the tickets at such a low price. If the seller can’t provide you with a solid reason for offering the steep discount, walk away. Do what you can to verify the legitimacy of the tickets before you send any money.

In the end, the easiest way to reduce the chances of being scammed is to buy through an authorized ticket exchange. You might pay a little more in fees and slightly higher prices, but you’ll have peace of mind.

What do you think? How do you buy tickets online?

Photo credit: Andrew W. Sieber


Published or updated July 9, 2013.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sean @ One Smart Dollar

I always stay away from anyone trying to sell print at home tickets. They are way to easy to be duplicated.

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2 Jake @ Common Cents Wealth

These are good tips. I got scammed buying some tickets off of Craigslist before. I learned a valuable lesson and will never do that again.

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3 Joshua Rodriguez

Thanks for the tips! I’v seen quite a few scams on Craigslist. On the rare occasions that I do purchase tickets online, I always order from Official sites. It’s ridiculous how many scams are out there!

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4 Derek | MoneyAhoy.com

The “too good to be true” works for almost everything. When you are buying ANYTHING, ask yourself this question and it will protect you 9/10 times!

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