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Win with trusted brokers, electronic transfers and patience.

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Buying tickets to sporting events used to be risky if you weren’t dealing directly with the team or venue. You had to beware of forged physical tickets or duplicate copies of print-at home fakes. Electronic transfers have largely eliminated that risk by replacing physical pieces of paper, says Kevin Mendel, owner of Upper Westside-based The Ticket Magician that buys tickets from individuals and sells them through other sites.

Whether purchased from a team or a broker, tickets are sent to an account that works like an electronic wallet on your mobile device. You can transfer tickets, but they can be associated with only one account at a time. “You should be able to tell on your phone quickly whether it’s the real thing,” Mendel says.

To ensure security, says Avi Spector, director of development for Buckhead-based Front Row Seats, many electronic tickets use a dynamic barcode that changes every few seconds. Others, he says, don’t use any barcode; instead, the ticketing system recognizes the account holder’s mobile device at the gate.

In other words, your tickets are as secure as the password to your account. The remaining risk for being scammed, therefore, is you. “You have to make sure you’re buying from people you can trust,” says Spector.

Most experts advise avoiding the anonymous sellers of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, where you have little recourse if you don’t receive tickets you buy. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the risk unless you know the seller, says Corey Ussery, Front Row’s customer experience specialist. “If it just seems too good to be true,” she says, “it likely is too good to be true.”

The safest option is to use companies that are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose standard is to offer a 200% money-back guarantee if you don’t receive the promised tickets or better. Buckhead-based Empire Tickets and Front Row are NATB members, as are such national brokers as StubHub, Vivid Seats and TickPick.

“It’s important to do your research in terms of buying tickets online. I’m personally not comfortable advising people to other websites that don’t have good policies,” says Spector.

Sports fans with unneeded tickets, often season ticket holders, turn to brokers to sell them. The best seats usually are sold as season tickets, making such surpluses appealing even when games aren’t sold out. Sellers typically list the same tickets on multiple sites, just as hotel rooms and airline seats are sold around the web.

Because trustworthy sites monitor and adjust prices in response to demand and list much of the same inventory, big price differences are rare, but watch for varying fees and commissions.

Spector says to consider the value of working with a site you know and trust, particularly when you need help finding tickets for a sold-out game.

Even if a team has tickets available, it’s worth checking broker sites because Mendel says tickets on the secondary market are cheaper for most events. The closer you get to kickoff, tip-off or first pitch, the cheaper tickets are likely to be, he says, so you can find bargains if you’re willing to wait and risk missing the game.




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