Yesterday may have been April Fool’s, but with the festival season kicking off, counterfeit tickets are nothing to laugh about. Every year, there are eager, fun-loving victims of counterfeit tickets—5 million to be exact. Maybe the tickets were sold out and these concert-goers needed to resort to other measures, like looking for listings on online marketplaces or through third-party vendors, or maybe they tried to buy directly from someone through social media. The options for counterfeit ticket vendors are seemingly limitless with the ease of the internet. With online transactions steadily becoming the norm and with photoshop tools at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever for online criminals to sell counterfeit tickets to unsuspecting buyers. They can efficiently identify a target group (those who are looking for a specific ticket) and take advantage of them without having to leave their home (create a fake ticket on their computer and market it directly to the eager consumer). It’s as simple as that. Which is why it’s important for consumers to know how to spot a counterfeit ticket.
With that said, here are our top five tips for steering clear of counterfeit tickets this festival season:
1- Beware of third-party sellers
Always try to buy from the original source or a reputable vendor like Ticketmaster or Ticketfly. If the tickets are sold out on these sites, there are additional sites like StubHub or Ticketswap which allow the owners of the tickets to resell them, though they are then in charge of the listing and can thus decide on the price. Buying through social media and other third-party sellers is always going to be a risk, which is why doing your research is important.
2- Check the tickets
If you must buy from a third-party seller, always check the ticket before making your payment. Look out for red flags such as spelling errors, suspicious watermarks, and uneven margins, as well as double-checking that the date and time are both correct and don’t have odd spaces in between the figures. These can all be signs of counterfeit tickets, but with a keen eye, you should be able to spot them.
3- Serial numbers
If you’re buying multiple tickets, another telltale sign of counterfeit tickets is if the serial numbers on your tickets aren’t in sequential order. Tickets are generally sold together and thus should have serial numbers that follow each other. If your serial numbers don’t match up, it could be that the vendor either fabricated the tickets, scanned the tickets, or is collecting them to resell in either legitimate or illegitimate ways. Either way, unsequential serial numbers typically signify that something is fishy, so be wary.
4- Pay with a credit card
This may sound like unusual advice, but paying with a credit card can actually be a smarter choice than paying with direct debit. Many credit cards often have systems in place that can challenge a payment if the product was not received in good order or as described, allowing you to either receive a refund or take other measures on the counterfeit product. So, even if you whip out that MasterCard and pray that your ticket is legitimate, you’ll be happy to know you have a backup plan if your transaction goes awry.
5- Do your research
This one should go without saying, but we can’t stress it enough: do your research on the vendor. Whether it’s a new third-party site, an individual listing on a reputable platform, or a post in a Facebook group, don’t just buy blindly. Read customer reviews, click through their profile, check out their LinkedIn page, just try to gather any information you think would legitimize this vendor’s listing. If you’re really unsure, you can even message the vendor directly to ask for additional information. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your favorite concert, festival, or event.
We hope you learned something new from our five tips on how to spot counterfeit tickets. With spring in the air, festival season coming in hot, and lots of fun to take part in this summer, make sure you keep your wits about you when purchasing items online. If you think you may have spotted a fake, but don’t want to take any measures that may implicate you in a possible infringement case, you can always report the suspicious listing on our website, and we’ll take care of it for you. Just because there are online criminals trying to take advantage of your trust doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to reap the benefits of the internet. Don’t be fooled this April—shop cautiously, do your research, and enjoy your event.