Don’t Fall for Scams this Super Bowl

Football season is swiftly coming to a close with the big game on the horizon. You might be feeling the leftover sting from some devastating playoff losses, but Patriots and Rams fans are still pumped about their conference championships.

For those who really want to witness the action first-hand, Super Bowl tickets and gear can mean handing over quite a bit of cash. If you’re on the look-out for a killer deal on tickets or merchandise, a word of warning: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The Super Bowl draws scammers year after year, pushing counterfeit tickets and merchandise on unsuspecting fans. Paula Fleming of the Better Business Bureau says, “…the Super Bowl has always been an event where scams are recurrent. With so many fans looking to support their team, it’s the perfect money-making opportunity for scammers.”

And while the Super Bowl accounts for the highest level of counterfeiting, scammers are apt to target the playoffs and games throughout the season as well. Before the NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Rams, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry urged game-goers to be cautious when searching for tickets. In a press release, he stated, “Consumers lose millions of dollars each year through con artists selling phony tickets or through illegal sales, so I strongly encourage Saints fans to take precaution when purchasing tickets to this week’s game.”

These scams are far-reaching and can impact anyone. With everything being a click away, fans are likely to purchase gear or tickets online. However, many aren’t so lucky, and end up with fake merchandise or nothing at all. In 2017, officials seized more than 260,000 counterfeited items valued at $20 million; in 2016, it was 450,000 items valued at $39 million.

So, whether you’re hunkering down for the big game in front of your TV or trekking to the Mercedes Benz dome in Atlanta to watch the Patriots take on the Rams, make sure you #ShopSafe this Super Bowl with these tips:

  1. Go with your gut: Before you make the play, consult your intuition. When purchasing tickets or parking passes, especially in person, trust your gut. If the tickets look phony or you feel you’re getting too good a bargain, you’re probably right. For instance:
    • Do they have a hologram?
    • If purchasing multiple tickets, are they consistent?
    • Does the paper-weight feel up to par?
    • Do the bar codes look right?

Even if your tickets meet the mark and get you past the turnstile, they could still be phony – counterfeiters often duplicate tickets, putting two of the same into the hands of two people.

Similar rules apply to merchandise. Some easy to spot red flags are misspellings, absence of the NFL logo, and low quality fabrics.

  1. Only buy from trusted vendors: The best way to avoid falling victim to counterfeiters is to purchase from the NFL or a licensed NFL vendor. For tickets, trust the official NFL ticket exchange and Ticket Master. Other reputable ticket re-sale sites like Stub Hub and Seat Geek are usually safe bets as well, but not necessarily guaranteed. For merchandise, all licensed vendors display the NFL logo or tout their partnership with the NFL shop.
  2. Shop secure sites: With the majority of purchases made online, shoppers should be especially wary in the online marketplace. Before you put in your credit card information, note the following things:
    • Make sure the URL begins with “https” – the “s” stands for secure, and means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
    • Look for a little lock to the left of the URL, especially when purchasing.
    • Avoid Craigslist – although Craigslist can be great for finding used furniture and other things, avoid it when purchasing tickets. Take a look at common Craigslist scams here and watch out for them when purchasing tickets anywhere online.
  3. Use a credit card: This means no money, no money orders, no cashier’s checks, and no debit cards. In the unfortunate instance that you do purchased counterfeit items, credit card companies may offer retribution for your lost funds.
  4. Know it’s not worth the risk: While missing out on the big game might seem like the end of the world, losing thousands of dollars and giving counterfeiters the opportunity to capitalize upon your decision is far worse. If you are on the fence between committing to merchandise you feel might be phony, back down, and dedicate your resources to finding a more reliable source. If you do fall victim, report the suspected scam here.

This Super Bowl, #ShopSafe and avoid scams.

Frank Cullen is the vice president of Domestic  policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center.

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