As Badger fans scramble to get tickets and hotel rooms near Pasadena, Calif., for one of the most-anticipated Wisconsin football events of the year, state officials are warning fans to avoid Rose Bowl travel package scams.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said in a statement Tuesday that Pasadena-bound students should use caution as they search for travel packages since the packages might appear cheap on the surface, but may not even include a ticket with the package.
Sandy Chalmers, WDATCP division administrator of trade and consumer protection, said the problem with Rose Bowl scams is that once someone has sent money to a con artist, they stand no chance of having it returned.
She said a travel package may look legitimate, but many people sign without considering the additional charges that may come up down the road and that it is important to know exactly what is being purchased before signing a check.
Consumers should read the fine print of a contract before agreeing to anything to make sure that the hotel and airline names are disclosed accurately, Chalmers said.
“We try to be proactive and to let people know the information they can to make good decisions about buying tickets,” she said.
The WDATCP is not aware of students being scammed so far this year, but warns that scams are likely to appear as fans try to get sold-out tickets.
A list of tips for consumers includes buying tickets from legitimate sources and established businesses, asking to see a picture of the ticket before buying to confirm the date, time and location, and not giving a credit card number over the phone.
Even so, while Craigslist is considered a legitimate place to conduct business, when a picture is not included, consumers may fall prey to scams designed by people just trying to make money, Chalmers said.
“If you’re going to go to Craigslist or any classified ad website, make sure you read the scams page because they’re pretty up to date, and they’ll give you pretty specific information on current scams,” Chalmers said.
Chalmers said red flags also should be raised if a ticket is advertised for far below its market value. She added students should keep an eye out for vendors who do business only over the phone or whose website does not include a physical address.
Wisconsin officials said fans’ safest bet is getting Rose Bowl tickets from venues that have been confirmed by the University of Wisconsin or the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
-The Associated Press contributed to this story