For many football fans in Northwest Florida, a ticket to the VIZIO BCS National Championship may be a popular item on wish lists this holiday season.  Between now and the game on Jan. 6, thousands of tickets will be listed on classifieds websites, offering buyers little protection from dishonest sellers. The Better Business Bureau serving Northwest Florida is warning consumers to be on the lookout for phony game tickets.

“The reason tickets are expensive is because they’re hard to get and the chances of you getting lucky and finding a deal are slim. If an offer sounds much better than it should, such as someone selling tickets for much less than offered elsewhere, it’s probably not on the level,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO of the BBB serving Northwest Florida.

To help ensure you don’t get ripped off buying event tickets, your BBB recommends the following:

Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren’t real, the seller will be long gone.

Before buying from an online ticket broker, check out the broker’s BBB Business Review at Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by “https://” at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen. 

If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets. 

Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a “private” transaction.  Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.

If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, never pay the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit.

For additional information and advice you can trust, start with