Rochester, N.Y. - The Buffalo Bills are back in the playoffs, and scammers are back at it, looking to take advantage of excited fans that are booking travel and buying tickets.
"We didn't want to have to pay for a plane ticket," said Bills fan Jack Nenni.
Nenni, an Albion native, will be gassing up his car for an 1,100 mile drive from Albion to Jacksonville, beginning Thursday.
"I got 100-level seats within the end zone," Nenni said.
He purchased a $400 ticket on the third party ticket website, Stub Hub.
"I'm a big sports fan," Nenni said. "It's not about the money, its about the experience, honestly."
Melanie McGovern, Communications Director for the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York, says fan dedication and excitement is what scammers typically try to take advantage of.
She says ticket companies are alerting fans ahead of Sunday's playoff game that the Jacksonville Jaguars will only accept tickets from mobile devices at the gate.
"If someone offers to sell you printed tickets or paper tickets, those are fraudulent and they won't be accepted at the gate," McGovern said.
As far as travel, McGovern adds that if an online deal seems too good to be true, it probably isn't a good deal.
"If you do find a room for $50, it might not be legitimate, so those are definitely things to keep in mind when you are booking your travel," McGovern said.
At the AAA office in Pittsford, Sales and Operations Manager Brenda Cahill added that the cost to travel is getting more expensive by the day.
"Flights have been somewhere between $750-$2,000 per person, depending on when they want to travel," Cahill said.
Cahill adds that flying into an alternate airport like Orlando or Savannah is indeed cheaper - but factoring in a rental car and hotel accommodation, the cost can add up.
"Ever since I was old enough to watch them, I've been a Bills fan," Nenni said, as he prepared for his four-day trip to Florida. "We haven't had anything to be excited about. It's going to be a once in a lifetime experience for sure."
Ticket Buying General Advice, according to the Better Business Bureau:
Purchase from the venue. Whenever possible, use the official ticket sales agent for the venue. Many now offer secondary sales options, as well.
Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling fraudulent tickets.
Check out the seller/broker. Look them up on bbb.org to learn what other customers have experienced. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on VerifiedTicketSource.come to confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company.
Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a secure purchasing system. Don’t click through from emails or online ads; a common scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company.
Know the refund policy. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.
Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won’t be able to get your money back.
Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment; some of these ads are going to be scams, especially if the prices are low.
If you’re unsure, verify your tickets. Pay a visit to the arena where the event will be held. Present your ticket to “Will Call” (customer service) and they can verify if your ticket is legitimate.
Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance covers things like trip cancellations or medical emergencies. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan you purchase. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.
Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.
Avoid broad internet searches. Try to avoid entering phrases like ‘best deals’ into whichever search engine you use. Broad search terms like that can sometimes lead you to websites that look official but are designed solely to rip people off.
Get trip details in writing. Before making the final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking site you are using.
Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.
Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time, and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.
Think before your click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click!
Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.