BBB: Watch for March Madness merchandise, online scams - Tucson News Now

BBB: Watch for March Madness merchandise, online scams

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warns the public about March Madness scams.

They said scammers capitalize on the scarcity of tickets and the high demand for merchandise, so officials advise people to investigate offers before spending hard-earned cash.

Websites like Craigslist show thousands of sports tickets listings but the site does not offer guarantees and sellers don't need to provide identification to list tickets. There are also no refunds or guarantees for tickets bought outside the event. The official NCAA ticket information is available at http://www.ncaa.com/tickets

BBB's website, http://www.bbb.org, shows secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections such as money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit card numbers so the site can charge a seller's card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets, according to the BBB. 

Counterfeit merchandise might be less expensive, but many of those items are cheaply made and all are stolen goods, as a person or company has used a team's name and logo for profit.

The BBB said buying these items online presents more potential problems because some websites might not have merchandise to sell and they can access your credit card number and personal information to steal your identity or drain your bank account.

The best bet, according to the BBB, is to purchase directly from team or league websites, officials stadium vendors or other trusted stores. BBB advises fans to ask questions and be wary of offers that requires wiring money or using Green Dot cards, because it is nearly impossible to get wired money back or trace the recipient, who might be overseas.

The BBB also warns of cyber scams related TO March Madness, as people can poison search results related to the tournament with malware that can infect computers and put consumers' personal information at risk.

BBB offers the following tips for avoiding scams connected to special events:

- Read ads carefully to understand what is being offered and what the price will be.

- Be wary of ticket offers at extreme discount prices. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

- Ask the seller where he or she is located and how he or she may be contacted after the sale. If the seller is evasive, don't pursue the offer.

- When booking hotels, ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel's website or a reputable travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the arena.

- Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items, such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets, have limited value.

- Use a credit card. A credit card company can assist you with obtaining a refund if the offer turns out to be fraudulent.

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