Tips to avoid ticket scams during March Madness

Make sure you’re not getting ripped off while cheering on your team

Published On: Mar 19 2013 04:22:50 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 03 2013 02:56:58 AM EDT
Ann Arbor, Mich. -

Michigan Citizen Action and Fan Freedom are warning Michigan fans to be aware of transferability restrictions on the paperless tickets issued for the Final Four and championship NCAA basketball games in Atlanta. Paperless tickets tie the ticket to the purchaser's credit card and require fans to show that credit card and a matching I.D. to enter the event.

The paperless tickets being used for the final games of the tournament can only be transferred through certain websites, which is likely to cause problems for fans of teams that do not advance to the championship game and want to get rid of their extra tickets quickly and easily.

"Restrictions like this give ticket issuers the ability to monopolize not only the initial ticket sale, but every resale and free transfer," said Linda Teeter, executive director of Michigan Citizen Action. "Fans should have the right to transfer the tickets they buy however and to whomever they wish."

Fan Freedom and MCA released the following guide to help Wolverine fans avoid common ticket-buying pitfalls for the remainder of the NCAA tournament. Michigan  takes on Syracuse  Saturday at 8:49 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

 "Hundreds of Michigan fans will be able to cheer on their team this week in Atlanta, but ticket buyers need to make sure they know exactly what they are purchasing," said Fan Freedom Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen. "The last thing any fan wants is to be misled into buying fake tickets, different tickets than were advertised or tickets that can't be transferred."

Michigan Citizen Action and Fan Freedom announced seven tips for Wolverine fans to avoid ticket-buying pitfalls:

  1. Use Reliable Sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you're unsure whether a company is legitimate, check its ratings with the Better Business Bureau. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.
  2. Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy: For example, websites like Stub Hub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets and All-Shows guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to consumers if they receive the wrong tickets or their tickets are invalid. Craigslist and other online classifieds sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.
  3. Pay Attention to URLs: When buying tickets directly from a venue, check the website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.
  4. Read the Fine Print: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. With such tickets, the buyer does not receive a physical ticket and cannot easily transfer these tickets. If your team loses in an earlier round, you would not be able to unload your ticket on a fan whose team advances.
  5. Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy. If you’re buying tickets on behalf of friends, make sure you know the maximum number of tickets allotted or your order may be cancelled without notice.
  6. Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has "https://" at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.
  7. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.