Let’s imagine you wanted to be there in person to watch Serena Williams play in the semifinals of this year’s U.S. Open Tennis Championship. Which of these two options would you have chosen?
Would you have used the official U.S. Open website to purchase a ticket for as little as $80? Or, would you have saved $15 by buying the same ticket online at StubHub, one of many secondhand ticket providers?
Each method has its benefits. Whether you want tickets to the big game, the hottest concerts, or a sold-out local play, the venue’s box office or official online ticketing agents are certainly the safest bet. But secondhand providers like Craigslist, eBay, TicketSwap, and StubHub are awfully tempting because on occasion they can save you money—plus, they’re sometimes the only source for tickets to sold-out shows.
If you’re drawn to the low costs or hard-to-find tickets offered by secondhand dealers, you’ll want to protect yourself against the added risks they present. How big are those risks? Statistics are hard to come by for the U.S., but consider this. One in 10 people in the UK have been victims of online ticketing scams and incidents of ticket fraud in the UK increased 55 percent in 2015 alone.
The scams you need to watch out for include:
- Never receiving the tickets you paid for in advance
- Receiving tickets that don’t match the seller’s description
- Receiving counterfeit tickets
- Having your credit card or other private information stolen when you use unsecured web pages
- Having your ticket purchase canceled at the last minute (so the seller can re-sell the tickets at a higher price)
To avoid these types of scams, you should make sure you’re using a reputable site—a little online research will go a long way. Also be sure to use a credit card to pay third-party sellers, so you can dispute the purchase with the credit card company if there are problems. Whatever you do, don’t wire money or give away your personal information by writing a personal check.
Also look for a firm sales guarantee like this one from StubHub: “You’ll get the tickets you ordered in time for the event and they’ll be valid for entry. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll locate comparable replacement tickets or send you a refund. You’ll get a refund if your event is cancelled and not rescheduled.”
Even with guarantees like that one, there are still added risks in buying tickets from secondhand dealers. But if you really, really want those tickets, at least be sure to take some basic precautions that will increase the likelihood you’ll be in the seat you want when the lights go on.