By Jeanine Skowronski
Super Bowl 50 is rapidly approaching, but you may want to think twice before you jump on any ticket offers that happen to come your way—especially if they seem too good to be true. Scammers have been known to swarm around the big game, ready to sell counterfeit tickets to unwitting fans looking to purchase passes on the secondary market.
These fraudsters may manufacture fake tickets, sell tickets they don’t have, sell obstructed view or non-existent seats at full price, and even use online classified ads or fake versions of legitimate websites to steal your payment and personal information. Falling for one of these fake tickets scams can cost you (Super Bowl 50 tickets started at about $4,000 and identity theft could lead to additional headaches).
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself if you’re looking to make it out to Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 7. Here are some best practices, culled from previous fake ticket warnings from the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, that Broncos, Panthers and football fans in general may want to keep in mind.
1. Research, Research, Research
Take a moment to see if any purported seller has complaints against them on the BBB’s website. You can also check to see if the seller is a registered member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB). Remember, there’s a big difference between a legitimate ticket seller and a ticket scalper. According to the FTC, reputable sellers offer guarantees that the tickets they sell are authentic and clearly outline their refund policies. They also will tell you the location of the seats, when the tickets will be available for pick up, or when they will ship.
You also may want to research the specific seats being offered. “Always ask for section, row and seat number to avoid obstructed view seats or seats that do not exist,” the BBB wrote in a Super Bowl ticket scam warning last year. “Also, feel free to ask questions to make certain you get all the answers you need to feel comfortable with your ticket purchase.”
2. Stick to Trusted & Secure Websites
To avoid turning your data over to a scammer, stick to trusted online ticket sellers. Go directly to each site, rather than entering through an email or online ad, and verify that the site is secure before inputting your payment or personal info. You can tell a secured website by looking for https at the beginning of the Web address.
If you do have reason to believe you’ve been compromised, be sure to regularly check your financial accounts for fraud. You should also keep an eye on your credit for signs of identity theft. You can do so by pulling your credit reports (you can go here to learn how to get your free annual credit reports from the three credit bureaus) and by viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.
3. Pay By Credit Card
Credit cards generally offer better fraud protections than cash and debit cards, so you may want to make this your payment of choice if you’re looking to buy tickets. And consider it a big red flag is the seller asks you to wire money in exchange for the seats. “If something goes wrong with the transaction, you’ll have no way to get your money back,” the FTC wrote in a World Cup Ticket Scam warning in 2014. “Once you wire money, it’s gone forever.”
4. Report Violations
If you do fall prey to a ticket scammer, report it to the proper authorities. Doing so can help keep others from becoming victims of the same scheme. You can contact the NATB at 1-630-510-4594 and file a complaint with the BBB at bbb.org. You can also file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.