ON YOUR SIDE: Better Business Bureau warns Cardinals fans of playoff tickets

St. Louis Cardinals' Paul DeJong right, celebrates with teammate Harrison Bader (48) after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

ST. LOUIS (Edited News Release) -- The Better Business Bureau warns those buying postseason baseball tickets of possible scams.

The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the arena, on the street, or through online auctions, classified ads or bulletin boards. According to the St. Louis Cardinals, all tickets for the division series will be delivered digitally through the MLB Ballpark app.

“Sports fans can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO.

The secondary market for sports and entertainment tickets has exploded in recent years, including tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders. Tickets purchased for sports and entertainment events are the source of thousands of BBB complaints by consumers nationwide. A report file to BBB ScamTracker in September 2019 by a Chicago-area resident is typical of complaints made by consumers.

“This individual reached out to sell tickets and eventually asked for Apple Pay as a means to send,” the consumer wrote. “They were fraudulent and claimed they were selling tickets on behalf of their father-in-law.”

BBB’s database of BBB Business Profiles includes ratings on ticket firms on the secondary market that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit card numbers so the site can charge a seller’s card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.

“The internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” Corey said. “Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers looking to take advantage of sports fans.”

BBB offers the following advice for fans seeking tickets:
-Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren’t real, the seller will be long gone.
-Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for BBB’s Accredited -Business seal on the website and click on it to make sure it is real. BBB’s dynamic seal will take you directly to a company’s BBB Business Profile, where you can read about the company’s record for responding to complaints. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by “https://” at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
-If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
-Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a “private” transaction. Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.
-Pay with a credit card in case you need to challenge the purchase later. If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, avoid paying the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit.

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.
For assistance, go to bbb.org or call 888-996-3887.