Keep the madness out of your ticket hunt

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Better Business Bureau is flying a warning flag. Don't get fouled in the hunt for basketball tickets.

March Madness is here and the BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is alerting basketball fans to be on guard for fraudulent sellers when shopping for tickets online. The Bureau says scams often follow in the shadow of the excitement generated by events like the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Thousands of fans will descend on Wichita for the first and second rounds of the tournament and then it's on to Omaha for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. The BBB warns that not all online ticket sellers will deliver on their promises.

Sellers on secondary ticket websites might be fraudulent. “The most common ways secondary-ticket sellers scam college basketball fans is by delivering counterfeit tickets or simply not sending the tickets,” said BBB President Jim Hegarty. “Even if the tickets do arrive, they are sometimes not for the seats the seller advertised – which can mean fans are stuck with seats that aren’t next to each other or are not in the reserved section but are located in the general admission section, which may mean long waits in line and no guarantee to get in.”

The BBB and the National Association of Ticket Brokers offer these tips:

  • The NCAA advises fans to buy from their website, or host schools ticket offices. The NCAA Ticket Exchange is the only 100% guaranteed, NCAA-approved secondary ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy and sell NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tickets. Ticket holders who are unable to attend a game or find their team eliminated have a place to safely sell their tickets, and buyers can be assured that the tickets are authentic and guaranteed. Log on to ncaa.com/tickets.
  • Research before you purchase. Look up the seller/broker on bbb.org or call BBB at 800-649-6814 for the company’s BBB Profile before purchasing. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers at VerifiedTicketSource.com. NATB members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. Taking a few minutes to research a company could possibly save you hundreds of dollars and a big headache.
  • Buy only from trusted vendors. Look for the padlock 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.
  • Know the refund policy. Only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose, prior to purchase, 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 for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.
  • Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some possible recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won’t be able to recover your money.
  • Be wary of ticket offers at extreme discount prices - these are usually too good to be true. Buy at your own risk if you choose to use sites like Craig’s List that offer no guarantees or seller identification. NEVER wire funds to strangers. Try to meet in person if possible.

Check before you buy at bbb.org.