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How to ensure your Taylor Swift concert tickets aren't fake

Taylor Swift fans are scrambling for tickets to the pop artist's sold out "Eras Tour." The rush for seats is also inviting the interest of another party: scammers. 

The Better Business Bureau warns of at least 20 distinct instances of related scams. For example, one consumer said a Twitter user advertised tickets for sale and requested $800 through mobile payment apps. The victim sent the money, but never received the concert tickets. Other scammers are hacking into Facebook users' accounts to impersonate them and dupe their close contacts into transferring them money for tickets that don't exist.

Strong demand for tickets, coupled with mobile technology that makes it hard to spot fake tickets, puts consumers at risk of being duped into purchasing phony tickets, according to consumer watchdog Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG). Along with Swift, some of the biggest names in entertainment, such as Beyoncé, Pink and the Arctic Monkeys, have upcoming shows, making it important for fans to remain vigilant.

"Desperate music and sports fans can fall for scams involving tickets because they want to go so much that they make bad decisions they wouldn't normally make," Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said in a statement.

The consumer watchdog urges consumers to avoid buying event tickets through marketplaces like Facebook, Instagram and Craigslist, where scammers may lurk. Even people who secure authentic tickets can be exposed to having their information hacked using such sites, with the group noting that it can be hard or impossible to recoup losses. 

"It's sad, but it's easier than ever for music or sports fans to get scammed by counterfeit tickets or get tricked into providing their personal information," Murray said. "And by the time you realize there's a problem, the thief and your money are long gone."

Common types of ticket scams

  • Counterfeit paper or electronic tickets. You shell out for tickets that are invalid. 
  • Scammers who have legitimate tickets sell them to multiple buyers.
  • Con artists who create bogus websites that mimic sites such as StubHub, VividSeats or TicketMaster to capture consumer search traffic. They pretend to sell tickets but instead steal your credit or debit card information

Tips for avoiding scams

First, don't buy tickets from strangers. Keep your guard up when looking for tickets to attend events at sold-out venues. It's best to purchase tickets through a verified agency. 

"Unless you're buying tickets from someone you actually know — a co-worker, a relative, a super close friend — then don't try to buy tickets from an individual," Murray wrote in a blog post

PIRG also advises against purchasing tickets using a payment service like Zelle, Venmo or PayPal — if it's a scam, it will be impossible to recoup your money. If you willingly pay a third party using one of these services, they are not responsible if you are duped. 

Relatedly, it's better to buy tickets with a credit card than a debit card because the former typically has more protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act. If you're scammed, you can file a claim with your credit issuer and they will typically refund you.

While it may seem obvious, you should only purchase tickets through well-known, reputable resellers. Beware of duplicate sites that mimic those of known companies. Also, research their refund policy just in case the tickets they sell you turn out to be counterfeit. Finally, cross-check the section and seat number on a ticket with the layout of the venue to make sure it actually exists. 

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