March Madness is upon us as the NCAA basketball tournament starts this week. BBB is advising fans to exercise caution when buying tickets over the next several weeks. Each year, how far a team goes in the NCAA tournament is often unpredictable, but one thing fans can control is the security of their ticket purchases.

Large sporting events are hotbeds for scammers looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting customers, and the high cost of attending a prestigious event like March Madness leads fans to scour the Internet for the best deal. Scammers and shady businesses take advantage of this opportunity to capitalize on tickets that may not even exist.

Whether you’re attending games here in New England or traveling to support your favorite team, BBB offers the following tips to avoid ticket scams:

Use reliable sellers. Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure whether a business is legitimate, check its rating at If purchasing from a ticket broker, check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB’s Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.

Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy. Many legitimate ticket websites, including members of the NATB, guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to consumers if they receive the wrong tickets or their tickets are invalid. Craigslist and other online classifieds operate under the “buyer beware” premise and offer no such guarantees.

Use secure websites for online transactions. When buying tickets or making online reservations, look for a padlock on the page, and the letter “s” in the URL box after the “http.” (Ex: If neither is present, the site is unsecured and your payment information may not be safe.

Read the fine print. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. These policies make it difficult to transfer these tickets. Thankfully, March Madness has an officialticket exchange for fans looking to offload tickets to other fans.

Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card is a secure way to do business online. Using a credit card may allow you to dispute the charge with the credit card provider if something goes wrong. Problems arise when sellers request a wire transfer or a similar method of payment. Once the money has been sent, the consumer often never gets it back.

Be prepared to pay additional fees. Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.

If you have questions or have been the victim of a ticket scam, call your BBB at 508-652-4800 or email

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