Buying secondary market event tickets

July 22, 2014

Sports are always in season, whether it's the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL or NASCAR—and of course there’s college sports too. Sometimes watching the big game on TV just doesn't cut it. But when you try to purchase tickets for an event, you often find they are either sold out or the prices are beyond your budget. This is when many people look to the secondary ticket market, a $10-billion-a-year industry, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

While the BBB's database is a great resource for reputable, secondary ticket firms that provide buyer protections, there are many scammers lurking out there. Here are three ways to help make sure everything is legit:

  • If you purchase through an auction site like eBay, choose a seller with a long, continuous—and positive—history. Beware if the seller wants to lure you away from the website or conduct the transaction privately. Instead, pay with a credit card or through PayPal, both of which offer some level of protection if the tickets are fake, they never arrive or if the event is canceled.
  • If the seller provides a photo of the tickets, scrutinize them for inaccuracies or alterations. Cross check seat assignments with the venue's seating chart, which you can normally find online.
  • Check if the ticket broker is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers and the BBB. This will tell you if you're dealing with a safe company that has a good reputation and a secure website for processing payments.

Note that if you're looking to purchase secondary-market tickets on game day, think again. Laws vary by state, but in North Carolina, buying tickets from an unauthorized vendor while on the event's premises (known as scalping) is illegal. Online, it's okay.

There are some protections in place for buyers in North Carolina, though. According to North Carolina law, an Internet reseller must guarantee a full refund if the event is cancelled, the purchaser is denied admittance using the purchased ticket or the ticket is not delivered according to the agreement, leaving the purchaser unable to attend the event.

For more information on buying secondary-market tickets, and to search for reputable online vendors, visit or

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