Authored by a Symantec employee

 

As winter drags on, almost everyone starts to look forward to spring — but perhaps no group looks forward to March quite as much as true-blue baseball fans. After all, its arrival means Cactus League and Grapefruit League spring training baseball camps open in Arizona and Florida. Whether you’re an armchair spectator or a season-ticket holder, it’s hard not to support your favorite baseball team by buying team merchandise or even traveling to cheer them on in person. If you decide to go big, just remember to watch for scams when buying merchandise or tickets online — or you might find yourself striking out on Internet security.

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Phony Sports Team Merchandise Websites

Fake websites trick consumers into parting with money and personal information every day. These phony online stores can look surprisingly real, which is why sports fans pumped up on team spirit should be cautious. There’s no reason you shouldn’t show your team support with a brand new baseball cap or jersey, but consider the following tips before clicking that buy button:

  1. Only buy from reputable websites like those affiliated with your favorite baseball team. The major league baseball organization publishes a site, which features an online store. To be sure you’re getting licensed team merchandise, buy from official team websites.
  2. Look for “HTTPS” in the site’s URL. This indicates that the website provides secure, encrypted communication and should be authentic and trustworthy.
  3. If you’re looking for a deal and don’t want to buy from your baseball team’s site, look out for poor spelling and grammar. A badly written website could be a tip-off that the T-shirt you’re about to buy is a counterfeit or you’re giving your credit card info to cybercriminals. Counterfeit merchandise often comes from overseas and is sold on bad sites built by non-English speakers.
  4. Remember that old saying: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Listen to your instincts if you have a bad feeling about a site. Use Norton Safe Web to learn if a site is safe, for free. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is legitimate or has any complaints filed against it.
  5. Always pay by credit card. Doing so could protect you if the website turns out to be a fake. Most credit card companies offer some form of fraud protection.

Spring Training Tickets and Travel Scams

When watching the game on TV isn’t enough and you just have to be there in the ballpark, you’ll also want to be careful when buying game tickets online. Sporting event ticket scams can be big moneymakers. The rules, like those for buying team merchandise online, are straightforward:

  1. Buy from reputable, licensed, team sites or well-known ticket broker websites. Be very cautious about buying in the secondary ticket market from individuals on popular resale sites. Many sports fans have been scammed by paying for counterfeit tickets or sending money to sellers electronically, then never receive anything in return. Reputable ticket broker sites typically offer policies to protect ticket buyers.
  2. Again, always pay by credit card so you might have some recourse through your provider if the tickets you buy turn out to be fakes.
  3. If you want to do some one-stop shopping to get to the game, there are travel agencies that specialize in sporting events travel packages. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are legitimate. You can also visit your favorite team’s official website to see if they offer travel packages.

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