Police have shut down 100 online ticket scam websites this month, by taking action through the organisation in charge of registering all web addresses; Icann (Internet Corporations of Assigned Names and Numbers).
Typically, however, these sites which sell fake tickets for events ranging from Bruce Springsteen concerts to the Olympic games are incredible difficult to shut down due to most of them being based offshore. As such, not only do many still remain but more will surely form to replace the fallen.
There are however simple steps you can take to help safeguard against potential online fraudsters:
- Does it seem too good to be true? Life can sometimes chuck you a nice surprise although more often than not if something looks too good to be true then you’re going to be left disappointed. Alarm bells should start ringing if you’ve been endlessly searching for seats at the O2, then suddenly you stumble across a random site that appears to have exactly what you’re looking for.
- Does the site look professional? While not necessarily an accurate indicator, I would be cautious of a site that promises premiership football tickets but looks like it knocked up in five minutes by a primary school child.
- Does the page have a page rank? This is one of my favourite methods of checking a sites potential legitimacy. Download and install the Google Toolbar (http:// toolbar.google.com) and this will then provide you with an immediate indication via a small sliding scale just under the address bar as to how ‘important’ Google believes the page you are currently viewing is. This level is established by monitoring the number of ‘important’ sites linking to the page in question; A ranking of zero would immediately indicate that the site is either new or that no other sites have seen it as worth linking to.
- Does the page have an Alexa rank? By downloading and installing the Alexa toolbar (www.alexa.com/toolbar allows anonymous usage statistics to be collected by a central server. This data can be used to create a massive database which ranks the popularity of various sites on the Internet which is displayed via a small scale within your browser. To demonstrate how this can be useful, consider that Ticket Master (one of the largest legitimate ticket sales sites) is currently ranked the 5,514th most popular on the entire Internet. This is no small achievement and it’s likely they can be trusted unlike a site which claims to be ‘The Biggest and Best on the Web’ while ranking in at five millionth.
- Does the page include contact details? You can always try phoning them before you put your order through to talk to then about your order. If you get a dead dial tone, an incorrect number or it sounds like the guy is talking on a mobile in the pub then it’s time to move on to another site.
- Does the site receive favourable reviews? Do a Google search for reviews of the site you are thinking about purchasing off; others will quickly rant if they have had problems and while all reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt this will quickly give you an idea as to whether the company is legitimate. Also, don’t place too much importance on accreditation logos; the only time they’re worth paying attention to is if it’s a body you recognise that have their own website that can be used to confirm membership.
- Is their site secure? Ensure that when typing in your card details that you have been transferred to a secure server; this can be done by checking that ‘https://’ has replaced ‘http://’ in your address bad. Also, never pay by cheque; a credit card will give you added protection should anything go wrong.
About The Author
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a copy writer of the online Ink and Toner website Refresh Cartridges http://www.refreshcartridges.co.uk. These articles can be found in an archive at http://www.computerarticles.co.uk