CLEVELAND - The excitement of a Cleveland Indians playoff appearance shouldn't distract ticket buyers from using extra caution when buying those last-minute seats.
The Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Better Business Bureau warn counterfeit tickets and unscrupulous sellers are a real possibility as the Tribe heads into post-season play.
"Fans hoping to catch Wednesday's game are easy targets for scammers," said BBB President David Weiss. "The Internet is home base for criminals hoping to make big bucks selling counterfeit tickets or by taking cash and providing nothing."
Cleveland Indians spokesman Curtis Danburg told NewsChannel5 Cleveland police will be out in force insuring tickets being sold by scalpers are being sold at face value and within a designated area off property.
"Obviously within the Gateway District, on the other side of Quicken Loans Arena, there's a scalp-free zone area where ticket scalpers will be able to sell tickets. The only ones we can guarantee -- because there are counterfeit issues out there -- is through StubHub," explained Danburg.
Cleveland BBB Vice President Sue McConnell told NewsChannel5 if consumers end up dealing with a ticket scalper through a cash purchase there are a few ways they can protect themselves.
"Definitely take a close look at the ticket, make sure it has the right date on it," said McConnell. "Look at the row and the seat that the tickets are assigned to and then get your smartphone out and look up a diagram of the ballpark. Make sure that row and seat actually exist."
The BBB offers the following advice for fans seeking tickets:
Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren't real, the seller will be long gone.
Before buying from an online ticket broker, be sure to check the BBB Business Review on the company at cleveland.bbb.org . You can read customer reviews and the company's record for responding to complaints.
Research the seller online by searching the phone number or email address of the seller to see if negative reviews have been posted.
Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by "https://" at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
If you are buying from a reseller, find one associated with the original ticket seller or the venue. You may pay more for the tickets, but buying from a legitimate reseller minimizes the likelihood of buying counterfeit tickets.
If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a well-known site such as PayPal to alternative online payment sites that may be fake.
If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, use payment methods that come with buyer protections. If possible, use credit cards or trusted e-commerce sites that provide accounts you can use to make purchases instead of using banking information.
Never pay with a cashier's check or wire money to a seller; you'll have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive.