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BBB: Beware Of Festival-Related Scams

Photo via Flickr//Shannon McGee

Summer is on the way and so are more festival scams. The Better Business Bureau says would-be festival goers are being tempted to buy tickets which are either fake or for a bogus event.

Here’s how such a scam could work: you see a great deal on tickets to a summer festival in your city, usually through a social media link.

“Sometimes you’ll go on a website and you’ll see maybe an ‘all-you-can-eat’ festival, and there’s going to be a great price for it. And if you see a great price for it there’s a possibility that it’s going to be a not true price,” said Tammy Ward with the BBB’s Pensacola office.

Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, have helped make it easier to perpetrate such scams. BBB chapters across North America have reported fake festival sign-ups. The victims show up and join other frustrated ticket holders. Ward says in other instances, the festival is real but the passes are bogus.

“As technology advances, obviously people try to find more ways to subvert technology, but it’s also tightened up security quite a bit,” says Mike Ensley, a co-founder and Chairman of Pensacon. a three-day science fiction festival which held its third edition in February.

Ensley says they’ve lucked out with smart, responsive vendors to help them keep fraud to a minimum. But he adds they have seen people try to create their own tickets, which triggers a number of security measures.

“To the point where our badges now have holograms on them,” Ensley says. “Wristbands are specially printed with our information. It’s a two-step process because you have to battle it online, and you have to battle it at the event.”

One advantage Pensacon has when it comes to keeping track of the paperwork is that all tickets and passes are issued at a central location.

There are ways to avoid being the victim of a festival scam. You could stay home, but that wouldn’t be any fun. Tammy Ward at the BBB says for one, don’t use cash or debit cards to pay for the tickets.

“If you’re going to pay online, pay with a credit card,” says Ward. “You can at least dispute the charges if something does happen.”

Also beware of third-party brokers online, who purchase tickets at face value, then jack up the price when selling them – you could probably call them “cyber-scalpers.”

More information is available at bbb.org. And Ward says you can also remember their mantra:  If it’s too good to be true….

“It usually is,” says Ward.