With local teams making it into the NCAA Tournament, basketball fever is on the rise! BBB is warning basketball fans to be careful when buying tickets, travel deals, and basketball memorabilia.
Major sporting events always inspire scammers to take advantage of fans, with fake items, fake tickets, and too-good-to-be-true travel deals.
While counterfeit items may seem like a good deal, they are actually stolen goods. If you love your team, don’t buy a hat or jersey from someone who has stolen the team’s name and logo for their own profit. Many counterfeit items are more cheaply made than genuine merchandise, which means they may not last as long as the real thing.
Buying counterfeit memorabilia online poses even more potential problems. Some websites don’t even have merchandise to sell. They just want your credit card number and personal information so they can steal your identity or drain your bank account. The best way to ensure you are getting official sports gear is to buy directly from the team websites, from official vendors at the stadium, or from other trusted stores.
Craigslist has thousands of sports tickets listed, but the site offers no guarantees and sellers don’t have to provide identification to list tickets. Con artists post non-existent tickets on websites like Craigslist and ask for money to be wired to them. The buyer is out the money – and the tickets. If you decide to buy tickets outside the event, remember there are no refunds or guarantees. Official NCAA ticket information is available at http://www.ncaa.com/tickets.
Also, BBB’s website lists reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit card numbers so the site can charge a seller’s card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets. Before you buy, check out a seller’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org, where you can find out whether complaints have been filed against the business and how the company handled any complaints.
Lodging scams also can be a problem for events like the NCAA Tournament. Scammers may lure people by advertising low prices – or they may charge a premium
by claiming that the hotel is close to the arena when it isn’t. Others may offer tickets with the hotel room, but you have little or no way of verifying whether the tickets are real.
The following are some BBB tips for avoiding scams connected to special events:
· Read ads carefully to understand what is being offered and what the price will be.
· Use secure websites for online transactions. Look for a padlock on the page, and the letter “s” in the URL box after the “http.” If neither is present, the site is not secure and your payment information may not be safe.
· Ask the seller where he or she is located and how he or she may be contacted after the sale. If the seller is evasive, don’t pursue the offer.
· When booking hotels, ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel’s website or a reputable travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the arena.
· Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items – such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets – have limited value.
· Use a credit card. A credit card company can assist you with obtaining a refund if the offer turns out to be fraudulent.
For more advice on finding professionals you can trust, visit www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.