Our area is dotted with festivals and fairs during the summer and fall each year. Sprinkled amongst the fun and games are the inevitable crooks who are scheming to take advantage.
One scam that has been making the rounds nationally is the fake festival trick. It works like this: An ad is spotted online or on social media that promotes a music extravaganza or maybe a barbecue festival, a craft-beer festival or perhaps a fun run. Click on the link and you’ll be sent to a splashy website, complete with pictures of happy festival goers. There may be a list of performers and other lures to pique your interest.
If you click on another link to buy tickets and you enter your credit card information, they’ve got you. It’s your private information they are after. The event may be completely fictitious and when you show up at the designated time and place, it’s just you and however many other trusting folks the scammer could fool.
Avoid falling for a fake festival with these tips:
• Research first. Do an online search for the name of the festival. See if the website is for the same event you saw advertised. (A common trick is to pick a phony name that’s very similar to a real event’s name.) Remember that secure websites have an “s” (for “secure”) in the “https” beginning of the address. No “s” can mean trouble.
• Check with BBB.org and BBB Scam Tracker to be sure there’s not a record of reported scams for that festival’s name.
• Look for a phone number and an address on the festival’s website. They should also list an email address. Merely having a contact form instead of a phone number and email address can be an indication that they really don’t want to hear from you at all. They just want your information and money.
• Super cheap prices are always suspicious. Festivals aren’t in the business of losing money. A price that is much lower than elsewhere means it is most likely fake.
• Double check with musical performers’ websites. Look on their tour schedule and be sure they are really slated to be at the event you are considering.
• Always pay with a credit card, one you are convinced the event and the website for it is legitimate. That way any future disputes can be handled more easily. If an online seller doesn’t accept credit cards, consider them scammers and move on.
• Buying tickets on eBay or Craigslist is risky. Ideally if you buy from an individual then be sure it’s someone you know and trust.
The festival season brings a lot of entertainment and happy recreation into our lives this time of year. Just watch out for the scammers that use it as cover for theft.
If you have questions or concerns about festival scams, contact your Better Business Bureau at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.