Action Fraud is urging people to “take more care” when buying tickets to live events as it reports victims lose an average of £365 (€409/$462) to ticket fraud each year.
The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, run by the City of London Police, has teamed up with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) to launch a campaign to warn ticket-buyers and provide advice on protection ahead of the peak festival season.
Between April 2018 and May 2019, Action Fraud received 4,755 reports of ticket fraud, with total reported losses costing victims £1.65m – an average of £365 per victim.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “Fraudsters take advantage when music and sports fans are keen to get tickets for high profile events. This is why it’s so important that people are vigilant and aware that there are fraudsters all over the globe trying to make money out of innocent victims.
“To avoid disappointment, always buy tickets from an official event organiser or website and if you are tempted to buy from a secondary ticket source, always research the company or the person online before making the purchase.”
The campaign advises people to check that there is a landline phone number and a full postal address for any website they are buying tickets from.
People should avoid using the site if there is only a PO Box address and mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after they buy tickets. It says: “PO box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.”
Jonathan Brown, chief executive of Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), added: “Buying from a STAR member means you are buying from an authorised ticket supplier signed up to our strict code of practice. While we hope you never have to use it, this also gets you access to our approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Service.
“Today’s highly sobering figures reveal that, although most of us think we can spot a scam, in fact victims of unscrupulous ticket dealers come from all walks of life. Younger people are especially affected – prompting us to launch a bold new campaign with Action Fraud to reach this market.”
The campaign recommends only buying tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site, as well as avoiding paying via bank transfers.
As part of the initiative, STAR has unveiled a ‘Safe Ticket Buying Guide‘ with a list of ‘Top Tips’ and things to watch for and be aware of, with one example stating: “If you’re being offered something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Margot James, Minister for Digital, who has been active in the fight against touts, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that people are still being ripped off in the ticketing market. The Government has banned the use of ticket bots and is working with industry to find solutions that will kill off crooked practices once and for all.
“We continue to support action by enforcement agencies who are going after those who flout the law, as well as efforts by STAR and Action Fraud to raise awareness of how consumers can protect themselves from ticket fraud.”