Holiday Ticket Scams Are Bad for Business and Consumers

Many people associate the holidays with family traditions. For some that means buying tickets to see sugarplum fairies at the Nutcracker ballet, the Rockettes in New York, or the World Wrestling holiday tour. Unfortunately, there are real-life Grinches who operate year-round scamming unsuspecting consumers out of legitimate tickets.

Reselling live performance event tickets is a $4 billion-a-year business. Sadly, if a deal seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance you’re about to be scammed. It can be very difficult to identify a fraudulent ticket and nearly 5 million people a year pay for tickets to that prove to be fakes.

Consumer ticket buyers can protect themselves this holiday season by watching out for these three common types of ticket fraud.

  1. Purchasing a ticket that appears legitimate with a barcode, but it’s been copied over and over again. Only the first person to arrive at the venue will be able to get in and if the show is sold out there’s no recourse.
  2. You pay a premium price for what seems to be a ticket close to the stage only to find it’s actually in one of the least expensive sections.
  3. You pay for a ticket online but don’t receive it before the event.

Legitimate ticket sellers work very hard to stop this kind of fraud from occurring. They want ticket buyers to have a good experience and get what they actually paid for.

“We work with legitimate ticket sellers every day to stop ticket fraud before it hits consumers,” said Vice President of Operations, Molly O’Hearn, at iovation. “Most retail ticket sellers use fraud prevention technology to avoid tickets getting into the hands of dishonest brokers. Legitimate ticket sellers want their customers to get what they paid for and have a great entertainment experience.”

Stay safe this holiday season by keeping these four tips in mind when buying tickets online:

Stick with known, legitimate sites
Buy from the venue itself or known online ticket sellers like Ticketmaster, TicketsNow or StubHub. Each of these companies offers customer support and buying guarantees. Using an established ticket seller is your best bet when it comes to ticket fraud protection.

Be wary of buying tickets through classified ads, Craigslist or eBay
You take a big chance when buying from an individual selling tickets online—especially if the cost of a ticket is advertised for less than everywhere else. Your chance of running into a scam definitely increases when you deal with an unknown individual.

Use a credit card or PayPal
Protect yourself by using a credit card or PayPal to pay for a ticket. If you pay cash or wire a payment you’ll have no recourse if the ticket you purchase isn’t legitimate. Both credit cards and PayPal have processes for reversing a payment or solving a dispute if you didn’t receive the ticket that was advertised.

Do research before you buy
If you want to use a lesser-known, or even just new-to-you, ticket outlet do some research up front. You can find out about a company’s history by checking their record with the Better Business Bureau. You can also search the National Association of Ticket Brokers site to find out if a ticket seller is a member.

While consumers definitely feel the pain of ticket scams, legitimate resellers also bear the brunt of ticket fraud. A ticket retailer’s revenue and reputation take a hit when targeted by scammers. Loss from fraud doesn’t go away on its own. Here are three ways legitimate resellers are affected by ticket fraud.

Drain on Internal Resources
Fighting fraud can take a large chunk of an employee’s time if a company doesn’t have the help of a fraud prevention partner in place. It can be a challenge for an internal team to stay ahead of fraud without tools that give them insight into the device being used for the purchase. Ticket fraud has to be stopped in the moments before it happens.

Revenue Loss to Chargebacks
A performing arts center in Dallas, Texas found themselves dealing with excessive chargebacks due to fraudulent brokers. “We were battling with brokers, who had come out in full force,” said the Director of Ticket Services. “Our finance department would get the chargebacks, and we would put all the paperwork together and try to fight them, but we were losing more than we were winning.”

Loss of Reputation and Customer Confidence
When customers either don’t get the premium seating they think they’ve paid for, or worse yet, a completely bogus ticket, they can often blame the legitimate ticket seller instead of the fraudulent broker or scammer. This can cause a huge loss of confidence and a hit to a ticket service provider’s reputation.

In the end, there are no legitimate winners when it comes to ticket fraud. Knowledge is the best way to protect yourself or business—understand the risks and take precautions. Don’t let fraudsters ruin your holiday plans. We can all work together to make stop ticket scams and give fraudsters a lump of coal for the holidays.

Read our case study about one performing arts center’s successful fight against fraud and chargebacks.