By John Burton
TRENTON — With Super Bowl XLVIII being
played at the MetLife Stadium in a little more than a week, the state Division of Consumer Affairs and Office of the Attorney General has issued a warning about scams that have occurred during major sports events around the country.
The public should be on the lookout for ticket, apartment and home rental and travel scams, along with counterfeit merchandise sale related to such events.
When purchasing tickets, buyers should check out the reputation of ticket vendors and websites that broker ticket sales before making an purchase. They should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs to find out if the seller has been subject of any consumer complaints and be sure to pay by credit card rather than by check, money order, wire transfer, which will allow the purchaser to dispute the sale if necessary. Those purchasing tickets should be sure they fully understand the terms of the sale and save all transaction information.
Many people from out of the area look for alternatives to hotels, seeking short-term apartment or home rentals. Both renters and landlords should take steps to protect themselves. Scam artists have been known to pose as property owners and place online rental ads and ask for wire transfer deposits for locations that may not exist or weren’t really available. Some scammers will respond to legitimate real estate listings. One common ploy is to send a fraudulent check or money order for more than the required amount and then ask the landlord to send a check with the overpayment; another is to send a fake payment and then cancel asking for a refund.
State officials recommend both perspective renters and landlords work with a reputable real estate agent and the property holders should check to make sure they are permitted by law to rent out part of their homes or sublet their apartments.
One common scam facing those traveling to the big game, is receiving an email claiming the recipient won a contest for $100,000 and two tickets to the Super Bowl, but requesting $3,000 to cover taxes and other costs. Oftentimes the fraudulent email will include an NFL logo.
Consumers should be aware that advising a prize requiring the recipient to take action – like sending payments – is prohibited under the state Consumer Fraud Act. The U.S. Department of Transportation has specific rules regarding travel packages that include event tickets, including requiring those promoting the package to actually have the tickets in hand or under contract.
When buying counterfeit merchandise, the Better Business Bureau reminds fans that fraudulent team jerseys and other items are not supporting favorite teams but are instead just supporting those who are cheating those sports franchises. Those items are usually poorly made and of inferior quality to the authentic items. Shopping for counterfeit goods online also increases the possibility of identity theft, according to the division.
Consumers who believe they may have been cheated or suspect fraud can file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting the website, njconsumeraffairs.gov, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.