December 20, 2014

Scammers target Packers fans

barcodeThe NFL playoffs are under way, buyers and sellers should beware of ticket fraud.

Con artists find yet another way to scam unsuspecting victims who are hoping to score Packers playoff tickets. “What’s happening is that fans are posting photos of their tickets for sale online and they’re showing the barcode. Well that makes it so easy for a counterfeiter to steal your ticket information.” And, Sandy Chalmers, division administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), says the fraudsters use that information to create fake tickets.

Chalmers says even if you’re not buying or selling, but you’re simply bragging about your tickets to your friends via facebook or other social media, you need to be careful. “You have to use a photo editor to blur out that barcode or your tickets will likely be stolen.”

Crooks know that people are desperate for these post-season tickets, and they have new ways of taking advantage of consumers’ vulnerabilities. Chalmers says the bad guys have many scams on Craigslist and other classified ads.

There is no way of knowing if a well-designed counterfeit ticket is real until game time. If you’ve got a ticket that is reported lost or stolen, you will be denied entry into the stadium. “You really have to be careful about who you’re buying from. It’s really best to go to the NFL-sanctioned ticket exchange or use something like StubHub, where there’s a guarantee that tickets are valid.”

Chalmers says, as always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Green Bay Packers play in the NFC Divisional Playoffs at Candlestick Park in San Francisco against the 49ers on Saturday at 7:00 central time. (More game day info)

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection offers this information to help consumers avoid becoming a victim of ticket fraud:

  • Legitimate NFL tickets are printed on thick, heavy paper with barcodes, holograms, custom laser cutouts and a specially-made gloss varnish. In addition, the NFL says the tickets include heat sensitive graphics that disappear with the touch of a thumb.
  • Potential buyers should ask the seller to e-mail or fax them a copy of the actual tickets before making a payment. Make sure the ticket information includes the correct date, time, location and seating details. Also, verify that the seating information is suitable for the stadium where game is played. The seller in this situation should blur or obscure the bar code in the email or fax so that it is not reused for a counterfeit ticket.
  • Use a credit card rather than cash, check or debit card to purchase tickets since it may provide some protection if you do not receive the tickets.
  • Do not give out your credit card number, online or over the phone, unless you are sure the seller is legitimate.
  • Do not buy tickets from sellers on the street near the venue. These scalpers are unlicensed and unregulated and may be selling stolen or counterfeit tickets.
  • Try to deal with “official” sources for tickets such as those endorsed by the team or those that are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. These businesses carefully screen ticket offers and take measures to protect consumers from ticket fraud.
  • If you are looking to purchase a playoff travel package, verify that the travel agent with whom you are dealing is a member of a recognized trade association such as the American Society of Travel Agents.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:35