Football season is upon us, and there’s one thought on every fan’s mind: How am I going to get those tickets? For some games, people would do anything for a chance to be there in person.

Unfortunately, though, ticket scams are hitting college football fans hard and fast. Thieves are swiping tens of thousands of dollars from innocent people every season. It’s important to know how to get to that game without losing half your savings in the process.

You can skip bootlegged merchandise at the game to avoid accidentally buying counterfeit goods. You can park in official places to avoid fake parking attendants. Those are easy scams to detect and dodge. It’s much more difficult to avoid phony tickets.

Almost all the phony ticket sales are made online, through sites like Craigslist or eBay. The seller writes a bit about how excited they were about using these tickets but had to make other plans at the last minute. They might even offer to sell the ticket for less than it’s worth because it’s such short notice. You read this, buy the ticket immediately and wire them what they ask for. Depending upon how much effort the crook wants to put into the operation, one of two things could happen. You’ll never get that ticket or hear anything from them again, or you might be lucky enough to get a realistic-looking fake ticket that’ll be turned away as soon as you get to the gate.

Either way, you’re out the money you spent on a ticket and you can’t even root for the home team unless it’s in your car while listening to the radio broadcast. If you want to save your money, check out the following three tips.

1.) Watch for red flags

Read the seller’s blurb about the ticket. Does it have the same tone as those “Prince of Nairobi” scam emails of the late ’90s? Is the seller lacking proof that they actually have these tickets, such as a picture of the tickets in question? If they do have pictures, do those tickets fail to match up with the venue, the date, the stated seating, etc.? Has the seller asked you to wire money to them?

If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, it’s almost definitely a scam. Take the information you’ve gathered and report it to the website administrators.

2.) Keep yourself protected

If the scammer was clever enough to trick you, and you end up losing your money, there are a couple things you can do. If you paid them through a third-party service, such as Paypal, you can cancel your transaction within a few days and get your money back. The same is true of many debit and credit cards that offer buyer protection services. Call your issuing company to find out if you can stop payment because of fraudulent or undelivered goods.

3.) Do your homework

The only way to be 100% certain you’re not being scammed is to buy the tickets at full price from the venue. Anything less than that is a gamble either way. Your best bet is to have as much contact with the seller as possible.

Start a conversation over email that goes back and forth for a little bit, asking them to verify every last detail about the sale. If you can, you might even want to call them by phone or agree to meet them in person. Just in case it is a scam, you’ll want to have all the information you can get to report them to the police and your credit card company.

Nothing is going to beat the thrill of seeing a live football game. Sitting in the stadium surrounded by tens of thousands of your fellow fans is one of the best feelings in the world. You deserve to be able to do that safely and securely without having to worry about who’s handling your money and how. So long as you keep your head on your shoulders and use common sense, you should be able to recognize most scams and avoid them. Then, there’ll be nothing for you to worry about but the score.


Your Turn: What do you do to keep yourself safe on game day? What red flags should people look for around sporting events? Share your tips with others in the comments!

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