8 Ways to Avoid Super Bowl Ticket Scams

News, Tips & how-to

A New Jersey businessman has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL), claiming that it is withholding Super Bowl tickets from the public and allowing resale prices to soar out of the reach of many fans. The man is suing in federal court, accusing the NFL of violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, which the lawsuit says prohibits companies issuing tickets from withholding more than 5 percent of available seating to the public. The man shelled out $4,000 to a ticket reseller for two seats.

According to the lawsuit, filed on Monday, the NFL allocates only 1 percent of tens of thousands of Super Bowl tickets to the general public through a lottery system. The rest of the fans who want to attend the game are left to the mercy of secondary sales, in which ticket prices might be inflated many times their face value. What’s worse is that many of these tickets are fraudulent.

Avoiding Super Bowl Ticket Scams

Before last year’s Super Bowl, a man claiming to be a Baltimore Ravens fan scammed San Francisco 49ers fans out of $5,900 for tickets to the big game. Some Niners fans sent money to a man listing tickets on Craigslist–then received packages in the mail containing messages like, “Go Ravens! LOL!” instead of tickets. After two months of investigating, the scammer was caught and the victimized fans received free ticket offers from Ticketmaster, StubHub, and the 49ers.

Super Bowl tickets aren’t cheap — and cheap ones might not be real. Use these tips to avoid showing up to the big game only to be turned away:

  1. Choose reputable ticket vendors (ones approved by the Better Business Bureau and/or associated with the National Association of Ticket Brokers or endorsed by the NFL. Purchase from familiar, established websites only–not classified ads, eBay auctions or other publicly-accessible selling venues.
  2. Be careful when purchasing from an online third party; use only secure websites when entering personal information, as always.
  3. Examine tickets carefully before purchasing in person. Trustworthy sellers will be willing to e-mail or fax you a copy of the actual tickets before making a payment. Make sure the ticket information includes the correct date, time, location and seating details.
  4. Genuine Super Bowl tickets will be printed on heavy card stock paper with raised ink, official bar codes and a heat-sensitive hologram (on a real Super Bowl ticket, this shiny hologram will vanish for a moment when you press a warm finger against it).
  5. Check for perfect accuracy on tickets (time/date/location etc.); people often order multiple tickets, later discovering ticket fraud by noticing misprints, wrong dates, duplicate seat assignments, etc.
  6. Use a credit card (not cash or a debit card). This ensures that you have records, and your credit card company’s purchase protections.
  7. Report fraud immediately. This maximizes your time to recover your money and prevents other fans from making the same mistake. (Do for others what you’d like them to do for you.) The NATB offers a fraud hotline: 1-630-510-4594.
  8. Before hopping on a plane for the Super Bowl, make sure you have an official ticket in your hand. Scalping may be illegal at the venue, which could get sellers and buyers in trouble.

Most of all, when buying tickets or other possibly-counterfeit items, remember: if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.