BBB: Sports playoff ticket buyers, AT&T customers target for scammers

April 23, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Better Business Bureau Cautions: Play it Safe Buying Sports Playoff Tickets

Fans purchasing tickets to the upcoming Blackhawks and Bulls playoff series are urged to be cautious when buying tickets online.

The secondary–ticket market is a large industry which includes professional brokers, speculators and season ticket holders. Since many of these sellers are not licensed or bonded, and are often found on unregulated online auctions, online classifieds, and bulletin boards using person to person sales, sports fans need to be more skeptical and need to double check the offer.

"Taking time to do research before spending a large sum of money on playoff tickets is crucial," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "When searching for tickets, it is easy to become blinded by what looks like a good deal."

In the past twelve months alone, there have been 136 complaints filed and more than 32,000 consumers contacting the Chicago BBB for pre-purchase information about companies in the "Ticket Sales – Events" category.

If you are considering buying tickets on the secondary market, the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to help with a successful transaction:

• Check to make sure the broker is licensed as required in the state of Illinois.
• In case the tickets may be counterfeit, avoid paying cash for tickets in person from a stranger.
• Never wire funds for payment.
• Deal only with brokers that provide clear details concerning the terms of the transaction. For instance, make sure you know up-front the amount of the surcharge for each purchase; whether the tickets are valid; how they will be sent to you and the time frame for delivery; and the broker's refund, rescheduling and cancellation policies.
• Check if the ticket broker is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) and review their rating with the BBB at
• Visit several Web sites to compare prices and ticket availability for the event you're interested in attending.
• Do not buy tickets from Internet sites that are not secure or lack a privacy policy; fail to disclose their refund, rescheduling and cancellation policies; does not provide a telephone number and address; or insists on cash payment.
• Verify the location of the seats on a seating chart provided by the venue to avoid purchasing non-existent seats or seats with obstructed views.
• Pay with a credit card or another secure form of payment so you can dispute the charge with your credit card issuer or bank.

"The most common way sports fans are getting scammed online is by either paying for counterfeit tickets or tickets that never arrive," added Bernas. "If something seems too good to be true, it most likely is."

AT&T Customers Are Latest Scam Targets Warns Better Business Bureau

Consumers are reporting they've been ripped-off by scammers posing as AT&T technical support using both emails and phone calls. Through these scams, people have lost hundreds of dollars and have had their personal and financial information compromised according to the BBB.

An example is what happened to one caller to the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, who stated that when trying to access her email a dialog box popped up. The message stated here mail may have been compromised and included a phone number to AT&T tech support. The consumer placed the call and it was answered by a business identifying itself as Q Tech Care/Expert Tech Support, and that it provided independent tech support for AT&T. To prove its legitimacy and to gain her trust, the business provided thecaller with a website that would give more information.

"To be successful, scammers must get their targets to trust them. After that it's easy for scammers to get what they are want," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois."The best advice is always be skeptical of any email or phone call you get from someone you don't know."

"Unfortunately,this caller's skepticism came too late," explained Bernas. "She contacted AT&T after she had provided her personal and credit card information and had been charged $199."

Bernas noted that the phone calls targeting AT&T and their customers also have the specific goal to get personal information or upload malware onto wireless devices.

Another tactic used by the scammer is to promise cash, as much as $350, said Bernas. All that is necessary is to go to a website provided by the caller and put in some personal information. In exchange the money would be credited to their accounts.

"The websites and are fake, but resemble the real AT&T website. By following the scammer's instructions without question puts people in the position of becoming victims of identity theft" added Bernas.

To avoid being caught by these kinds of scams, here are recommendations:

• Consider how the business normally contacts you. Beware of a departure from the normal routine. Some providers typically send customer's text messages, so be wary of a phone call.
• Be extremely suspicious of any website wanting complete personal information. Most services and businesses that require personal identification already have the information from when you originally signed up, especially if the business is sending the message to you. They should not need your entire social security number or entire credit card number again.
• Contact the business. Always call the business customer support line to check the legitimacy of the offer. Be sure to find the phone number on your bill or by a web search, not the website the scammers gave you.
• Don't believe what you see. The website that scammers created for this scam looks amazingly similar to the real site. Stealing logos, colors and graphics online is easy for scammers. Just because it looks real, does not mean it is.

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