Beware Of Fake Super Bowl Tickets

Use Secured Web Sites Or State-Licensed Brokers, Buyers Are Advised

By Mc Nelly Torres, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 1, 2007

Still hoping to score tickets to Super Bowl XLI, via scalpers at the stadium or online?

NFL officials and consumer advocates are warning ticket buyers to be careful and watch out for counterfeit tickets. This year, legitimate Super Bowl tickets, which are selling for thousands of dollars, come with extra safety features to guard against fraud.

Last year, Florida repealed the state's scalping law, opening a huge ticket market for consumers but also exposing buyers to more fraud risks. Nationwide, dozens of people have been arrested on felony charges for selling counterfeit Super Bowl tickets in prior years.

Consumer advocates cautioned buyers about online ticket auctions, classified sites and fan-to-fan exchanges, particularly when sellers offer no concrete proof they are holding legitimate tickets. They suggest using a ticket broker and online ticket sellers such as TicketsNow, Stubhub, Ticketmaster, and RazorGator.

"People need to make sure the Web site is prescreened and secured," said Mike Domek, CEO of TicketsNow, an online ticket seller.

Also, if you are buying from a Web site, make sure you verify the location of the seats on a seating chart to ensure that you won't have an obstructed view.

Buying tickets from scalpers on the street and in front of the venue can be even riskier, experts say. Scalpers are typically unregulated and unlicensed, leaving consumers more vulnerable to fraud, including the sale of stolen and counterfeit tickets.

"Sometimes they misspell the name of the venue," Domek said about scalper cheats.

Dan Masonson, NFL communications manager, said the NFL has put in place some safety features on Super Bowl tickets this year to protect consumers from fraud.

Each Super Bowl ticket back features a blue hologram that alternately displays the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl XLI logo, a bar code at the top and bottom of the ticket front, and other features designed to make it difficult to duplicate.

"It also has a thermographic ink on the back bottom ticket that is heat-sensitive," Masonson said, noting the ink disappears when body heat is applied.

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, a consumer organization based in Indianapolis, said a ticket broker can be a great resource for consumers who have waited until the last minute. Thousands of consumers share their ratings and reviews on Angie's List about local contractors and companies, including online ticket-resale operations.

"But it's important to do your homework and know the demand and your options for getting the ticket you're seeking," Hicks said.

Make sure the ticket broker is licensed by the state and a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which will provide some type of guarantee for a refund if the ticket is not valid. Hicks said consumers can also develop a relationship with a broker so he can alert you to upcoming shows or good deals.

"Don't be afraid to negotiate the price," Hicks said.

And it is not a bad idea to keep an eye on supply and demand. Find out how many tickets your broker has on hand and ask him if you can afford to wait a few days to see if the price will go down.

Super Bowl average ticket-resale prices, for instance, have dropped from $3,500 to $2,500 since last week. And while prices are expected to go down more by Sunday morning, Domek said what appears to be a good deal can be a rip-off.

"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," Domek said.

Mc Nelly Torres can be reached at mntorres(at), 954-356-4208 or 561-243-6600, ext. 4208.

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