Fans of live entertainment have much to look forward to this summer as there are a host of exciting events happening at home and aboard.
From the Summer Olympic Games in Paris and the men’s Euro 2024 football championships in Germany, to world tours by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, not to mention major UK festivals and concerts such as Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight and Reading festivals, there is a wealth of entertainment coming our way.
Unfortunately, this also means that fans will be vulnerable to ticket scams, as fraudsters target the most popular events in the calendar. Ed Sheeran fans are already being hit by suspected online scammers, who have been appearing on Facebook groups claiming they have tickets to his soldout world tour. When genuine fans send over money for the tickets, the fraudsters either demand more money or delete their profiles and simply disappear.
So if you’re hoping to head to any big matches, festivals or concerts this year, it is best to be on high alert before parting with your hardearned cash.
Kirsty Adams, Digital Eagle at Barclays, says that there is likely to be an increase in ticket scams in the runup to the year’s biggest events, and urges fans to exercise caution if they’re desperate to get hold of a ticket.
‘Whilst most fans will have already secured their tickets, it is likely we’ll see a surge of resales nearer the time,’ she says, ‘with scammers targeting fans who may have missed out and failed to secure a ticket in the ballot or draw process.’
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director, Lloyds Bank, warns: ‘Fraudsters are always changing their tactics to trick victims out of their hardearned cash. With demand to attend live events soaring as the warmer weather approaches, they’ll waste no time in targeting music fans as they rush to pick up tickets for the most popular gigs and festivals.
‘It’s easy to let our emotions get the better of us when we find out our favourite artist is going to be performing live, but it’s important not to let that excitement cloud our judgement when trying to get hold of tickets.’
Ticket scams to look out for
Fake websites and fake tickets
Some of the ways scammers target victims are through fake websites, social media posts or emails offering tickets at discounted prices, or access at inflated prices to events which have already sold out. Even if the post appears to show a genuine ticket, it could be mocked up on Photoshop. Victims are asked to pay upfront for the tickets, but once the payment is made, the scammers disappear. This leaves the buyer without the tickets and out of pocket.
Says Barclays Kirsty Adams: ‘Be careful and make sure you’re booking through a legitimate site by checking the website address to make sure it is the official one. When you’re caught up in the excitement and rush of trying to get a ticket, it can be really easy to stray from genuine ticket sites and not realise you’re falling into the hands of a scammer.’
For example, compare a legitimate website address which is usually simply a name and then .com or .co.uk with a spam site which might have lots of other letters and numbers around it. Many major sites have https:// before the address to show that the browser connection is secure, which is also shown by the padlock icon before the website address in the browser window.
False error messages
One common scam involves a false error message which pops up saying there is a problem taking the payment. The victim will then be asked to make the payment again, and will be charged twice for nonexistent tickets. If you’re buying tickets and you’re told that your payment didn’t go through, check your online banking or mobile app yourself. Never pay using unsecured payment methods like bank or wire transfer — a reputable company will never ask you to do this.
Being pressured into buying
It is also important to not let yourself be rushed into anything. Fraudsters know that people are less likely to check whether something is genuine if they are under pressure, so take your time and protect your money.
Seat scams can sometimes result in you having tickets to the event, but not the ones you were promised. For example, fraudsters will sell you a seat that they haven’t secured, then after getting your money, they’ll use it to buy a cheaper seat. This makes them a profit while you end up paying over the odds for a seat you didn’t want.
Scattered seats is another scam to look out for, particularly if you’re buying tickets to West End shows. This is where scammers offer what seems like a great group deal, only for you to turn up and realise that none of the seats are together.
Duplicate ticket sales
This is a scam where one ticket is sold multiple times to different buyers, so the first person to arrive is granted admission and the others get turned away. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common due to the increased use of QR codes and etickets.
How to protect yourself from ticket scams
Only buy from trusted sources
Always go through the official site when making a purchase. Buying directly from reputable, authorised platforms is the only way to guarantee you’re paying for a real ticket. Citizens Advice consumer expert Jane Parsons recommends only using websites that have a red, black and white kitemark provided by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) or members of the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) – STAR members include Royal Albert Hall, Royal Shakespeare Company, SeatPlan, Ticketmaster, The O2 and Wembley Stadium, while resellers Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave are members of ASTA.
Soughtafter football tickets for top clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea are also ripe pickings for scammers, so if you are looking to buy match tickets you should purchase them directly from the clubs themselves.
Sports clubs and festivals such as Glastonbury will also provide details of any authorised ticket partners on their official website so you can buy resold tickets with confidence.
Check website addresses
Take extra precautions when buying tickets from thirdparty sellers, such as checking the URL and entering the address directly into your browser, rather than clicking on an email link.
Use a debit or credit card instead of bank transfers
Bank transfers offer little protection if something goes wrong. Buyers who pay by credit card or debit card are better protected by Section 75 and Chargeback rules which say that you might be able to get your money back if something you paid for arrived broken or faulty, or didn’t arrive at all.
PayPal is also a safer option but be aware of fake emails pretending to show that money has been paid into your account – always check your account balance separately. And if you do use PayPal, then select ‘Paying for an item or service’ from the payment options which will protect you under PayPal’s Purchase Protection.
Be wary of sending money via bank transfer (also known as a Faster Payment). Bank transfers were not designed as a way of paying for things online and offer little protection if something goes wrong. Use a debit or credit card instead. Ticketing websites often provide many different ways of buying tickets but debit or credit cards are often the safest option.
Avoid unrealistic bargains
Avoid deals that look too good to be true – tickets for sale at low prices or for soldout events should ring alarm bells. Ask yourself if the deal seems realistic.
Jane Parsons, consumer expert at Citizens Advice, says: ‘If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Be suspicious if tickets are being sold for events that have already sold out, haven’t officially gone on sale or are being offered for a reduced price.’
If you see someone posting on social media or eBay about how they’ve bought too many tickets by accident for a popular concert, or doublebooked themselves for a major event, then ask yourself how likely that really is to have happened.
Check links before clicking
In the rush of trying to get tickets, it can be easy to click on a link you’ve been sent, without checking whether it is legitimate. Scammers will create fake sites that are deliberately designed to look real, so it’s really important to check both the email address the message has come from and the link you’ve been sent, to ensure it is taking you to the real site. If you’re unsure whether a site is credible, check the company’s office address and landline number – it shouldn’t just be a PO box – and check for reviews from different sources.
Be wary of social media
Social media is full of different hacks and tips about how to get tickets, but it can’t always be trusted. Always make sure you are going to ticket sites through your search engine or official emails from a legitimate ticket provider. It can be tempting to click on something shared on social media, but there is no guarantee it is the official site and scammers will be using social media to try and target fans. Resell sites such as Viagogo or StubHub are safer as they have guarantees in place that will cover the cost of your ticket if you are scammed.
Check the T&Cs
This is often the last thing on people’s minds when they’re excited to be buying tickets, but it is very important to check the terms and conditions as this will map out any cancellation or refund policies.
Report ticket scams immediately
Contact your bank straight away if you have transferred money or made a payment to a scammer they may be able to stop the payment. You can also report a scam to national fraud and cyber crime centre Action Fraud on their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.