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'Scammers are always on the lookout for unsuspecting fans to lure into buying fake tickets or counterfeit goods.'

COURTESY BBB - Danielle KaneIt's that time of year again — turn on the big screen, whip up some chicken wings and put on the game. Yep, it's football season.

Maybe you're into college football and cheering on the Oregon Ducks. Or maybe you're one of the many California and Seattle transplants in Oregon rooting for the Seattle Seahawks or Oakland Raiders. Either way, there's one thing to know if you or your friends are planning on heading to a game: Be on the look out for ticket scams.

Scammers are always on the lookout for unsuspecting fans to lure into buying fake tickets or counterfeit goods.

Thanks to the internet, there are countless ways for consumers to find tickets and connect with online marketplaces, ticket sellers and resellers. Unfortunately, some of them are rip-offs, and it's not always clear how to tell if a ticket is fake.

Last year, Better Business Bureau received nearly 400 reports on BBB Scam Tracker about ticket scams, which included sporting events, concerts, theatre, and more. According the BBB Scam Tracker, fans reported losing nearly $4,000 to football related scams last year.

But it's not just tickets that can be fake; BBB has also seen scammers selling counterfeit sporting goods. Many of us want to support our teams by wearing jerseys, hats or other items that have our favorite team on it. Scammers know this and create websites that attempt to take your personal information and money.

BBB is warning consumers to be smart when searching for tickets or gear to ensure they are purchasing from a trustworthy source. BBB and the National Association of Ticket Brokers, a BBB national partner, are working to raise awareness and educate fans about the smartest ways to buy tickets on the secondary resale market and avoid scalpers.

Here are some tips to consider before you click the purchase button:

• Purchase directly from the venue whenever possible. Many official ticket sales agents now offer secondary sales options, as well. 

• Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling fake tickets.

• Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on BBB.org to learn what other customers have experienced. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are buying from an NATB member resale company.

• Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a secure purchasing system. Don't ever click through from emails or online ads; a common ticket and counterfeit goods scam is to create a web address that looks like a well-known company, but it's really not.

• Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.

• Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card, so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won't be able to get your money back.

• If you're unsure, verify your tickets. Pay a visit to the arena where the event will be held. Present your ticket to will-call, and they can verify if your ticket is legitimate.

Danielle Kane is Portland marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.


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