Home Advice & How-ToGuides How to Steer Clear of Concert Ticket Scammers
Home Advice & How-ToGuides How to Steer Clear of Concert Ticket Scammers

How to Steer Clear of Concert Ticket Scammers

by Nick Marshall

However excited you might be about the festival season or the chance to catch your favorite bands on tour again, it’s scammers who are really celebrating.  Many buyers get so caught up in the thrill of purchasing a ticket that they fail to recognize the signs of being scammed.  By some estimates, as many as 12% of concert ticket buyers end up getting ripped off. Bottom line: Don’t book anything until you’ve learned about these common summer concert ticket scams. 

How Ticket Scams Work

Given that today’s box office is typically online, there’s a layer of anonymity that scammers can hide behind.  That leaves them free to unleash the following scams.


Surprisingly ticket “scalping” isn’t illegal, but there’s a big difference between legitimate brokers who charge a fair mark-up and scammers who massively inflate the price of tickets that could be bought at face value elsewhere.

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Fake tickets  

Criminals (especially professional gangs) can easily forge the barcode, QR code and even holograms on tickets.  You won’t know you’ve been scammed until the ticket is scanned at the venue. 

Multiple resales

Opportunistic fraudsters might purchase genuine tickets and show them on social media, usually with the barcodes or serial numbers blurred.  First, however, they duplicate the ticket so that they can sell it to as many buyers as possible on various channels before it disappears. 

Non-existent tickets  

This scam takes a little more technical and design skill, but it involves cloning the ticket information from legitimate brokers and setting up a bogus booking portal.  Customers purchase their tickets in good faith and everything looks correct — from the booking confirmation to the payment receipt — but no ticket will ever arrive.  Worse still, valuable credit or debit card information and personal details are stolen. 

Phony categories  

Occasionally, events will offer complimentary tickets to sponsors or corporate partners that are not intended for resale (often they are marked as such).  These might be for a VIP area or offer fast-track entry.  If scammers can get their hands on them, they can sell them privately, putting the buyer in an embarrassing situation when they reach the venue. 

How to Buy Tickets Safely and Smartly

No concert is too big or high-profile to rise above the scammers, and the infamous Fyre Festival was by no means the low point of systematic ticket fraud.  If you want to make sure that you’re crowd surfing in the mosh pit rather than thumbing a ride home from the parking lot, make sure you follow these simple rules. 

Buy directly from the venue

Skip the promoter and go straight to the source by buying your tickets directly from the venue’s online box office.  They will list upcoming concerts weeks or months in advance, and as long as you see the padlock symbol in the URL bar, your purchase is secure and the seller is legitimate.  The tickets should be cheaper too. 

Use a trusted ticket broker

If the venue has sold out of its allocation of tickets, you’ll have to pay a little extra from a broker.  Sometimes, the entire ticket stock will be handed to a reputable agent such as StubHub or Ticketmaster.  Ensure that any reseller you buy from is registered with the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB).

Do a website background check

If you’re buying from a broker that you’re not familiar with, check that the website features:

  • Contact address and phone number
  • Business and NATB registration details
  • HTTPS security
  • Trust tokens to show that payments are secure
  • Verified reviews or testimonials
  • Refund and cancellation policy

Use Spokeo to check the authenticity of any credentials you see.  An address search, for example, will give you a verified physical location that you can confirm on Google Street View, while a phone number search could reveal if the number has been reported for any fraudulent or criminal activity. 

Pay the right way

Take advantage of fraud protection by using a credit card to pay.  If you don’t receive your tickets, you can make a chargeback to get your money refunded.  Whatever you do, never send money to someone claiming to have tickets by untraceable routes such as gift cards, Venmo or money order. 

I was just scammed…Now what?

Once you’re certain that the tickets you booked either don’t exist or won’t arrive, you should protect your other accounts from possible identity theft by filing a report with both local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  You can then put a credit freeze on your credit report to stop anyone from opening credit lines in your name.  To get your money back, try contacting the venue directly and request a chargeback from your bank.  If you can limit the damage to a missed concert, at least you’ve claimed a small victory against the scammers. 

There will be other chances to catch your favorite band, but you can make sure that scammers never get a second chance with Spokeo.  Search the public records linked to any phone number, email, name or address, and follow the digital footprints that unwitting scammers often leave behind.