Avoid getting ripped off by NCAA ticket scams

Photo credit: WNCN

(WOOD) — As the state gears up for another season of March Madness with both University of Virginia  and Virginia Tech in the tournament, officials are issuing a warning to watch out for ticket scams.

It happens every year, but the Better Business Bureau says scammers are getting savvier when it comes to tricking consumers and will often event for which tickets are a hot commodity.

“People will seize on that and kind of game the system or cheat people out of their money,” BBB Director of Marketing in Michigan John Masterson said.

He added that scammers will also utilize social media.

“A lot of advertisements can be posted all over the internet and say really anything they want and the deals may be too good to be true,” he said.

Masterson says it’s crucial if you’re looking to buy March Madness tickets to find a trustworthy seller that’s reputable and can verify the tickets for you, and one that offers upfront purchasing agreements and a refund policy.

You should also be on the lookout for scalpers.

“Scalpers kind of can play by their own rules, whereas a verified trusted source can then add rules that you can follow, see can use and then buy those tickets,” Masterson said. “Some red flags are asking for the money upfront. Always make sure that in some way or form that the money is held in escrow till you get the tickets or you know there’s some secure transaction. You never want to send money blindly to someone anonymously online.”

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office provided these tips to protect yourself:

  • Know your vendor: Only use reputable websites and look for warning signs of “spoof” sites. Be wary of sites where tickets are posted for sale “by owner,” because they’re difficult to verify.
  • Do your research on a site before buying there. You can call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at (850) 414-3990 to learn more about a seller.
  • Use a credit card so you can take advantage of its protections, like being able to stop or dispute a charge.
  • Shop websites that begin with “https” rather than “http.” These websites have more protections for your personal information.
  • Inspect your tickets. Look for errors like misspellings, odd barcodes or missing holograms.

If you have a complaint regarding tickets you bought online, you can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division online  or by phone at (804)786-4718.

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.