Beware of Fake Festivals – BBB Warning

BBB Warning: How to Spot a Festival Con

Going to a festival? Check this out!

Shocked by Fyre Fest news? Look for These Festival Warning Signs

When guests arrived at Fyre Festival this past Thursday, they were shocked to find an angry crowd instead of a luxury music festival. Unfortunately, Fyre isn’t the only festival that has failed to live up to its promise.  Each summer, scammers and promoter wannabes tempt would-be festival goers into buying tickets for events promising all-you-can-eat crabs, live music and other fun. Whether the event is non-existent or merely disappointing, the result is the same: someone had pocketed your hard-earned money!

How the Scam Works:

You see a social media post or online ad for a great deal on tickets to a summer festival. The type of festival varies; it can be a music extravaganza, an all-you-can-eat crab feast or BBQ, a craft beer festival, or a themed fun run. When you click the link, and it takes you to a flashy website with fantastic pictures. You enter your credit card information to buy tickets, and you are set.

Don’t do it! Better Business Bureaus across North America have gotten reports of fake festivals, or festivals that promise way more than they deliver. Victims purchase tickets and show up at the time and location, only to find a crowd of frustrated ticket holders. The festival either never existed or fell far short of organizers’ promises.

How to Spot a Festival Fake-Out:

  • Research before purchasing. Search online for the name of the festival and make sure the name advertised matches the website. Scammers often use names that sound similar to real festivals. Check BBB.org and BBB Scam Tracker to see if reports have been filed about the event.
  • Check for (working) contact information: Be sure the festival website has a phone number, physical address, and email address. Be wary of sites that make it hard to reach someone, such as those that rely on a contact form instead of offering a customer service phone number.
  • Prices too good to be true: There is no way a festival can offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower than elsewhere, it’s likely a scam.
  • Claims too good to be true: Do a little online sleuthing to see if claims add up. If a music festival offers top entertainment, check out those bands’ actual touring schedule. See what other users or news outlets have said about the festival in the past.


What Can You Do?

  • Pay with a credit card: You can dispute the charges if the business doesn’t come through. Be wary of online sellers that don’t accept credit cards.
  • Look for secure sites: The website should begin with https (the extra “s” is for secure) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.
  • Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and other free online listings:  Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at bbb.org before making purchases.


For More Information 

Learn more about festival scams in the Federal Trade Commission’s alert.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

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