How to avoid getting scammed by fake SEC Championship tickets

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) –Tickets are sold out for the SEC Championship, so if you’re still hoping to go you’ll have to buy them via the secondary market. But you need to be careful not to get scammed.

The Better Business Bureau says big events like Saturday’s title game are ideal for scammers because of the high demand and low supply. You might see them on street corners outside the stadium or offers from them on social media. And if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“Consumers need to understand that if they see things on their social media feeds: ‘Unbelievable prices, we’ve got to dump these tickets quick, blah blah blah,’ then typically that would be something to be wary of,” David Smitherman, president of BBB Alabama, said.

Last year the BBB received more than 300 reports of ticket scams related to various events. But they say there are ways to know if you’re buying from a legitimate source.

“Wherever you buy the tickets, make sure you know if there’s a refund policy,” Smitherman said. “And typically, legitimate ticket brokers will have some sort of refund policy.”

The SEC has set up a second market website, secticketoffice.com, where fans can buy and sell tickets. Conference leaders say it’s the only authorized fan-to-fan ticket marketplace for the SEC Championship, so it’s wise to purchase tickets there.

But if you do plan to buy tickets outside the stadium, there are ways you can verify you’re getting a legitimate ticket. Start by looking at the ticket itself. Smitherman says you should avoid paper or PDF tickets. Official tickets are glossy on the front and feature a picture of a field with players and the SEC logo. The players, field lines and lettering all are raised, and you should be able to feel that if you rub your fingers across the ticket. The back features a holographic foil at the bottom that shows SEC circle logos and the words, ‘Southeastern Conference,’ when you rotate the ticket back and forth. 

If you’re still concerned about it, simply take the ticket to the stadium’s ticket validation window. Even better, you can ask that the seller go there with you before you purchase the ticket.

“If you purchase Saturday at the stadium grounds, if the seller is willing to walk to the window to validate the ticket, that’s a pretty good sign,” Jim Sullivan, SEC director of championship ticket operations, said. 

Purchasing online has its own hazards. If you plan to go that route, Smitherman recommends checking to see if the seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. You can also see if the seller has a report with the BBB on their website. He says it’s also wise to pay via credit card, which should help protect you from fraud. Cash isn’t as safe. And he says it’s a red flag if someone asks that you pay with a gift card. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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