A true story about buying cheap tickets for events reveals a scam most people don't know about: Internet ScamBusters #195
Today's issue is called "Cheap Tickets: How Not to Get Scammed." We share an interesting experience from a friend who witnessed a common cheap tickets scam.
In addition, we want to alert you to a new trend: private debt collectors are starting to collect delinquent taxes from US taxpayers. We'll briefly discuss why many experts are concerned.
Let's get started...
Cheap Tickets: How Not to Get Scammed
We want to share a story about a common scam related to buying cheap tickets that most people don't know about -- so you don't get taken by this cheap tickets scam.
(Note: This article has nothing to do with CheapTickets.com, which is a very good travel website we have personally used.)
The true story comes from our friend Steve:
--- Begin Steve's true cheap tickets story ---
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take the kids to Six Flags since summer vacation was almost over and we hadn't used our passes much this year.
If you have children, you know how special a day at the amusement park can be. You don't want anything ruining it, and you definitely don't want it to turn into a lesson about the uglier things in life.
The Six Flags near us costs about $40 per person just to get in the door, close to $100 per person for a season pass and an extra $15 a day for parking (unless you pay an extra $60 for the season parking pass).
As we walked up to the gate area, a woman came up to us and asked us if we wanted to buy tickets from her for $20. We have season tickets so we simply said no and walked away.
Unfortunately, someone else she hit wasn't as lucky.
To understand what we saw, I first have to explain how the Six Flags near us is set up. The people who need to buy tickets stand in line to pay the cashier. The people who already have tickets or a season pass get into another line to go through a metal detector.
On this particular day, the metal detector lines were horrendous.
As we were getting close to the front of our line, I noticed a commotion going on in the line next to us. It appeared that someone was trying to get into the park with counterfeit tickets. As I got closer, I saw a gentleman with his girlfriend and he was trying to explain that he bought the tickets from a woman who had been standing in front of the park.
Being a curious individual, I couldn't help but listen as the man pled his case, and as he started describing the woman, I realized it was the very same woman who had asked us if we wanted to buy tickets!
To the horror of my kids, I got out of line (they thought we'd have to go back to the end) and started explaining to the security officer that the man was telling the truth and that the woman he was describing had also asked me if I wanted to buy tickets. It was at that point that the police were called.
I had to answer some questions since I had also seen the woman and it took about an hour before my family and I were able to go into the park. Needless to say, when everything was over and we actually got into the park, the kids started asking questions.
All at once I was asked why the police were there, why the man was yelling, why an adult would lie, and my four-year-old wanted to know why the police didn't ask Wonder Woman to catch the bad lady. (Wonder Woman was at Six Flags in costume.)
My kids eventually stopped asking questions and started enjoying the games and the rides, but I know they haven't forgotten the incident. Yesterday my mother-in-law took my daughter to a movie and when they got home my mother-in-law told me that my daughter had asked the girl at the ticket counter if the movie tickets were real.
When I explained what had happened to my mother-in-law, she told me the same thing had happened to one of her associates - at an opera of all places.
After doing a little research, I discovered that this really isn't an uncommon occurrence. In fact, it appears to happen frequently.
Anywhere tickets are sold, there may be scammers lurking - trying to con people out of their hard-earned money.
So the moral of the story is this...
If you see someone selling tickets outside of a movie theater, a concert, a performance theater, an amusement park, a zoo or any other event or attraction that requires a ticket to get in, think VERY carefully before you buy the ticket, no matter how cheap it is.
After all, if you pay $20 for a $40 ticket and the ticket's counterfeit, you're really losing $20 instead of saving it.
--- End Steve's true cheap tickets story ---
Summary: buying cheap tickets (or expensive tickets, for that matter) outside of events can be an expensive mistake.
This is one of many reasons that ticket scalping is illegal.
Private debt collectors start collecting delinquent taxes from US taxpayers
The IRS has hired private debt collectors to begin collecting delinquent taxes from 12,500 US taxpayers, who each owe $25,000 or less in back taxes.
This is the first step in a broader initiative to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private collection companies.
Experts have several concerns, including:
- It is much more expensive than IRS debt collections.
- There is a greater chance that debtors will be conned by scam artists using phishing and other scams when private companies are in the mix.
- Taxpayer rights may be at risk with privatization, since private firms are much more concerned with maximizing profit than safeguarding taxpayer rights.
Most people do not know about this new program. Given the recent trends and abuses in private debt collection that we wrote about a few months ago, as well as the other concerns the experts have expressed, we find this trend quite disturbing.
In fact, private debt collection firms have been known to be overly aggressive, even harrassing the wrong people.
For more info about these new trends in debt collection, click here.
Time to wrap up for today -- have a great week!