Personal foul: Tennessee authorities warning of fake sports tickets, scams

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Just a few weeks into college football season, you may be getting ready to buy your next ticket to the game.

Before you do so, however, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) has some guidance to make sure you aren't sidelined by fake tickets or ticket-buying scams.

Before purchasing tickets, review the venue or team’s ticket policy to know what formats are supported. Some venues only support physical tickets, while others may accept digital formats.

If possible, use the official ticket sales agent for the venue or purchase directly from the venue. Many now offer secondary sales options, too.

Look up the seller on the National Association of Ticket Brokers’ (NATB) VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are purchasing from an NATB-member resale company.

Check into the ticket broker or resale site’s protection and refund policy.

When purchasing tickets in person before an event, ask the seller to walk with you to the venue entrance before buying. If they hesitate or refuse, don’t purchase the tickets.

Ask the seller for photo identification and make a note of his/her name and date of birth.

Make sure all necessary bar codes are on the tickets and serial numbers aren’t repeated from ticket to ticket.

Be cautious when buying PDF print out tickets. These could have been printed multiple times and only the first person to have that ticket scanned at the gate will get in.

Check the ticket to make sure all information, such as the date, event location, and face value, is correct.

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 click through from emails or online ads; a common scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company.

Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised.

Avoid purchasing tickets from someone you don’t know asking you to wire money.

Know the refund policy. Only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Prior to purchase, ticket sellers should disclose 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 immediately, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.

Get the specifics on tickets, which include shipping terms and availability dates. For example, if the reseller has tickets in-hand or if they are speculative tickets. Speculative or “spec” ticket postings are when resellers advertise tickets they don’t actually have. If an event has not gone on sale yet to the general public, but seats are already being sold, that is a good indication that they are “spec “tickets. They do this so they have the greatest flexibility to find tickets to deliver to the buyer.

Cover the code. Do not take photos of your ticket stubs and post them on social media sites. This is the perfect way for nefarious brokers to rip off these tickets.

For more tips on being a savvy consumer or to file a complaint, visit tn.gov/consumer or call 615-741-4737.

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