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Going to a live sporting event provides the experience of being part of a great experience, an amazing play that afterword you can say “I was there.”

Live sporting season is upon us with our favorite college, NFL and local teams beginning their seasons and it’s time to get your tickets. Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants to make sure that when you are buying tickets you use the safest practices.

This isn’t just for tickets; scammers can also trick consumers into purchasing seemingly legitimate merchandise from less than secure sites. Each season, a wide variety of sites have pop-ups to purchase tickets. BBB Northwest and Pacific wants you to avoid phony ticket scams.

According the BBB Scam Tracker, football fans reported losing nearly $4,000 to football-related scams last year. Common scams include reselling fake or non-existent tickets on online classifieds, counterfeit merchandise, price gouging, ticket scalping and scammers who use bots to buy thousands of tickets and resell them at inflated prices.

A lot of the scams are not limited to tickets, as many of us want to support our teams by wearing jerseys, hats or other items that have our favorite team on it. Scammers know this and create websites that attempt to take your personal information and money. Do you research and be careful when making purchases online?

Whether you’re cheering for the Seattle Seahawks, Washington State University, Gonzaga University, Spokane Chiefs or any other team, BBB advises fans to follow this advice when purchasing tickets and merchandise:

  • Pay with protection. Paying with a credit card offers consumers protection if scammed. The credit card company may be able to help obtain a refund if the tickets are fake. Be wary of online sellers that ask to wire money and don’t accept credit cards.
  • Verify the tickets. To check the authenticity of tickets, ask for a copy of the seller’s invoice or purchasing receipt to check where the seller bought the tickets. It’s also recommended to contact the original promoter directly.
  • Check out the seller/broker. Before you decide to purchase tickets on other sites, be sure to look the seller up on bbb.org. Secure, legal sites for second-hand purchases are another way to purchase tickets but make sure to thoroughly research prior to making your choice. These sites guarantee their consumers and sellers a secure transaction. It’s also wise to check if the seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200 percent purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company.
  • Look for secure sites. The website should begin with https (the “s” is for secure) and include a lock symbol on the address bar. Also check the official website for a phone number, physical address and email address. Be wary of sites that rely on a contact form instead of offering a customer service phone number. Contact forms make it hard to reach someone from the company.
  • Shop local. If you’re searching for ticket bargains on classified sites and apps such as Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, Offer Up and Letgo, it’s wise to meet sellers in person in a safe, public place.

Any fan who believe they are the victim of a scam is encouraged to report it to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker. For more information, consumers can visit bbb.org/tickets.

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Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific.

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