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Consumer advocates warn of Packers playoff scams

Published On: Dec 30 2013 04:01:16 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 30 2013 06:53:22 PM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

Judging by social media, there are numerous Green Bay Packers fans enjoying the opportunity to gloat about the team's NFC North-clinching victory on Sunday over the Chicago Bears. However, consumer advocates are warning that celebration should not include posting photos of playoff tickets to Sunday's upcoming matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.

"Whenever there's a high demand for something, it's an area that's pretty ripe for scams," said Kimberly Hazen, who runs the Southwest Chapter of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. She limited her taunting of her father, a Bears fan, to a text message Sunday, but worries specifically about what can happen when scammers see pictures of playoff seats.

"Scammers will actually scour social media sites to look for bar codes of tickets they can then copy," she said. "If you brag about it, take pictures of your ticket, (and post) 'Yeah, I'm going to the game,' and you put it on Facebook or some other social site, you're exposing a bar code, which scammers can lift to reproduce the ticket."

Hazen said the re-sale business for sports and entertainment tickets is a $10 billion per year industry and leads to hundreds of consumer complaints every year. For all the reputable ticket vendors and professional brokers, she said there are also people willing to break the law to make money.

"You should work with a reputable seller and run a (background) check on who you're buying your tickets from," she said. "The demand for these tickets is so high, people are willing to pay a ton of money. They're willing to take chances."

Hazen reminded consumers that actual, legitimate playoff tickets have official logos on them, come on sturdy paper stock and, as mentioned, have bar codes. Consumers should also compare seats from tickets to the seat map on the team's website to ensure they actually exist.

"The good news is we're in the playoffs. The bad news is it's the time people scam for tickets,” Hazen said. “(We) go from the rational part of our brain to the emotional hysteria and we want to stay rational. Still do your homework, still check out the re-seller."

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