A Fraud Expert Shares Tips on How to Avoid Concert Scams

As the season of music and sunshine arrives, keep an eye out for scams that could cost you big.

There is nothing more joyous than scoring tickets to see your favorite artist live. Whether you plan on attending a world stopping tour like Renaissance or you are trudging out the desert to watch Björk perform at one of this year's big festivals, it's a resplendent time of year. But while so many people are out frolicking in the sun, some people are plotting to scam. And unfortunately, they are going to be scamming those of us who are just trying to scream their favorite lyrics at the top of their lungs.

But, even with the risk of buying fake tickets, phishing scams, fake events, and the myriad other ways you can lose your precious cash (and ability to see Beyoncé perform "Cuff It") there are ways to protect yourself. Thrillist spoke with Visa’s Vice President and Global Head of Fraud Services, Michael Jabbara, to help keep you and your money protected from scammers this summer.

Here's the essential advice you need to know directly from the expert:

Thrillist: Are concert and festival scams common?
Michael Jabbara: Scammers are known to follow the money, and because of concerts and festivals' high popularity among consumers, schemes around these events are fairly common. This trend is becoming even more prevalent today, as in-person travel and events continue to rise to pre-pandemic levels.

How do I spot scams during festival season?
When shopping for festival and concert tickets online, be wary of buying from peer-to-peer resale markets as this channel can be more difficult to verify. Instead, opt for leveraging trusted and established vendors. Additionally, if an offer feels too good to be true, it's probably because it is.

Do your due diligence and research average ticket prices and the seller to avoid being scammed. For example, it may be beneficial to avoid any one-on-one offers or purchasing tickets on social media. Be wary of vendors seeking payment through cash, wire transfer, gift cards, or peer-to-peer apps as those payment methods are difficult to reverse/trace and can be indicative of fraudulent activity.

What do I do if I am sold fake tickets?
If you're sold fake tickets, a first great action is freezing the debit or credit card that you used to purchase them and letting your card issuer know you've been scammed. By freezing your card immediately, you can protect yourself from criminals trying to open a new credit line or loan under your name. Your bank/card company can also monitor your card activity and block any further purchases the scammer may commit. Additionally, you can also file a complaint with watchdog institutions, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent others from being scammed.

What other kinds of festival scams should I be on the lookout for?
You should also be careful of domain spoofing, where fraudsters impersonate known and legitimate businesses (in this case ticket vendors or marketplaces) to phish consumers into sharing their personal and payment information. Make sure to check the links you're clicking on to validate the correct spelling and security settings of the website (having the URL begin with HTTPS).

Beyond ticket scams, accommodation-related fraud is another popular festival scam to be aware of. Be cautious about making reservations online and make sure you receive written confirmation for your accommodation. Additionally, travel-related scams are also on the rise. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, travel scams cost consumers over $95 million in 2021 alone. When booking travel for out-of-state concerts or festivals, be wary of discounted flight and vacation deals from third-party platforms.

What are the best ways to protect myself from scams?
When it comes to security, it pays to be proactive. Here are a few tips to follow to protect yourself from scams when shopping for concert tickets.

  • Buy tickets from trusted vendors; if scouring the resale market, go through the National Association of Ticket Brokers
  • Avoid purchasing tickets from someone you don't know (e.g., scalper) or on Craigslist, eBay, or other similar P2P marketplace or auction sites
  • Venues are going cashless; use a credit card for easier refund support and dispute charge—not your debit card
  • Check the URL before entering payment details; includes "s" to confirm the site has a secure connection; not a dupe site
  • Utilize online resources (e.g., Better Business Bureau's scam tracker) to search phone number, email, or social media accounts of the seller
  • Always be wary of advertisements with low prices
  • Do not pay for tickets with cash, wire transfer, gift cards, or prepaid money transfer

What should everyone planning on attending a music event this year know?
With more venues going cashless, fraudsters are out on the prowl like never before. In addition to the tips above, be cognizant of what you share on social media—location details, ticket information, etc. This is information that cybercriminals can use to piece together and grab your personal information.

By following Jabbara's expert advice and keeping a healthy sense of skepticism, you'll hopefully make it through festival season without encountering any of these scams. I can't guarantee that you won't look at your own spending and feel dismayed about the information. But money comes and goes—an unforgettable experience is forever.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.