There are quite a few hot-ticket events around the country, and that means scalpers and scammers are waiting at the ready to make some fast money. Whether it’s Super Bowl tickets, concert tickets, or—in the case of a currently newsworthy event—festival passes to Coachella, the internet has created a veritable Wild West for buying third-party event tickets.
Coachella is a weekend-to-weekend festival that takes place each year in California’s Coachella Valley. The outdoor event draws top-name celebrities and musicians alike, and the festival atmosphere brings in crowds numbering close to 100,000 people per day. The tickets, which run from about $400 to $900 each, are a hot commodity and sell out very quickly.
Part of the quick turnaround on the tickets is due to scalpers buying up entire blocks of tickets and then reselling them online for a profit. The common practice means a lot of people won’t think twice about purchasing their tickets from a site other than the official festival website, and that’s something scammers are banking on.
One reported scam for last year’s event cost one would-be attendee $400. The seller listed the tickets on Craigslist and required payment in the form of a MoneyPak prepaid debit card. Once the victim purchased the card and the seller claimed it, the victim never received the tickets and never heard from the seller again. Attempts to call the seller’s stated phone number went to a free texting app.
Other scams surrounding past years’ events include attempted phishing emails that sought attendees’ personal information, credit card numbers, and more. Yet another reported festival scam offers attendees add-on tickets to other events, only these other events—from restaurant and lodging options to getting to rub elbows with famous people at VIP parties—don’t even exist.
With tickets to the 2017 festival going on sale on January 4th, scammers are waiting with these same tactics, and a few new tricks as well. Here are some ways to be prepared:
1. The event fine print itself states that they are not required to honor, refund, or support any tickets that were purchased from a third-party. Even buying a genuine ticket from an outsider runs you the potential risk of losing your money.
2. But what if a friend of a friend of a friend suddenly can’t use his ticket—or any other high-dollar item, for that matter? Meet in a public place to make your purchase, and ask the seller to sign a detailed, itemized receipt for it.
3. If you are ever purchasing event tickets online, never pay with a prepaid debit card or gift card if you can avoid it. Using a credit card or a mobile payment option like PayPal offers you some measure of buyer protection if this turns out to be fraud.
4. As for those phishing emails, once you have your tickets there’s no reason for anyone to request your credit card number or your other personal details. If you don’t have tickets but receive an email offering you a great deal, do not click a link or open an attachment; instead, verify the company’s existence online and make your purchase through their site.
As always, anyone who believes their identity has been stolen or their personal data has been compromised is invited to connect with the ITRC through our toll-free call center at (888) 400-5530, or on-the-go with the new IDTheftHelp app for iOS and Android.