March Madness needn’t be March scam-ness


March Madness fever is nearly here, as the popular college basketball tournament gets set for tipoff. With all the excitement it brings, it can also put a dent in your wallet if you’re not careful.

Your Better Business Bureau can help you get a ticket and avoid getting scammed.

About $3 billion is spent on office pools every year and millions spent on tournament tickets and memorabilia. Despite attempts to regulate the secondary ticket market, which is sometimes referred to as scalping, the market continues to grow. According to Seat Geek, an online Web site for tickets, it says the secondary market is a $15 billion dollar industry and is growing every year. Last year, more than 157,000 inquiries and almost 1,600 complaints were filed with your BBB concerning ticket sales across the U.S. and Canada.

Your BBB offers these March Madness tournament ticket tips:

• Ask the seller where he or she is located. Also, ask how he or she can be contacted after the sale. If the seller is elusive, don’t pursue the offer.

• Never wire money or pay with a cashier’s check to the seller. You’ll have no way of getting your tickets or money back. Pay with a credit card or through PayPal, which will offer you some protection.

• Look for secure Web sites when buying tickets. Secure sites have a padlock on the page and the web address box should start with https.

• Do your research. If you’re buying tickets online, ask for a picture of the tickets so you can confirm the tickets match the venue.

• Don’t be lured away from reputable Web sites to complete transactions with sellers.

Be wary when booking a hotel. Ask for all details including confirmation number and call the hotel to verify that the room exists. Watch for advertising which list excessive incentives to make the package look better than it is.

Remember, the best way to ensure you’re receiving official tickets or sports gear is to buy from trusted stores, team Web sites or official vendors located at the stadium. You can also, visit the official NCAA Web site at www.ncaa.com/tickets. If you’re buying from an online broker, look for the BBB seal on the Web site.

Also, check with your BBB. It can provide a list of BBB Accredited Businesses to help make your ticket purchase a pleasant one. It can also provide Business Reviews on businesses you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.


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