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Fake ticketing: Cyber security scams on the rise

Top tips to avoid scammers when getting your hands on passes to this season’s hottest events

Taking advantage of excited fans, scammers use various deception tactics to draw in a profit.

With temperatures in the upper 40° Celsius, Dubai’s summer season might not be immediately associated with buzzing outdoor music concerts, sporting tournaments, international conferences and art exhibitions, but luckily the city offers plenty of alternatives through its many indoor venues for fans to meet their idols. It is also the season when big-ticket winter events, such as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Dubai Sevens, go on sale.

As more and more customers turn to the internet to make ticket purchases, what we typically experience is that prices skyrocket the closer we get to a major event and customers turn to unofficial sources such as third-party websites to get their hands on last-minute tickets for themselves, family members and friends. By doing so, it is sometimes easy for customers to forget online safety checks and the risks associated with purchasing tickets from unauthorised websites.

Taking advantage of excited fans, scammers use various deception tactics to draw in a profit. Common methods include sending fake ticket barcodes or an exact image replica of the tickets, advertising fake entry deals, selling a number of duplicated tickets to various people and sending an email with “a link to the tickets” but upon clicking on the link the victim falls prey to a phishing scam. Most commonly, however, they create a website to sell these tickets, lending the scammers more credibility.

Over the past year, we also saw an increase in form jacking incidents, an illegal tactic in which malicious JavaScript code is installed onto legitimate online platforms to capture personal data every time a consumer makes a purchase. These cybercrime tactics often happen on ticketing sites like on e-commerce in general. In 2018 alone, an average of 4,800 websites globally were compromised each month, enabling cyber criminals to steal online shoppers’ names, addresses, emails and even credit card details. According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report released earlier this year, 1 in 344 form-filling activities were detected and/or blocked from form jacking attempts in the UAE.

So, how can you ensure to get your hands on legitimate tickets and prevent yourself from disappointment? Here are some suggestions:

  • Do your research and make sure you use a legitimate website or company. You can do this by reading customers’ reviews online and double-checking if the company provides sufficient contact information. This is hugely important, especially when visiting an unfamiliar website.
  • Rely on the official event website and try to keep away from third-party websites, especially if the ticket prices fluctuate considerably from one platform to the other. Alternatively, use ticket exchange or marketplace websites you have previously used and are happy with.
  • Avoid paying in advance when making a purchase from a reseller. To be eligible for a refund in case things go wrong, use a wire transfer or payment service that provides insurance on your money.
  • Avoid posting ticket pictures of social media. Uploaded picture might have the barcode visible which makes it easier to create a clone ticket.
  • Get safe online. Use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts and devices, and don’t use the same password across all your online accounts.
  • Use a comprehensive security solution for all your connected devices to keep you protected against spyware, viruses, financial Trojans and other malware designed to scam and steal information.
  • Report scamming attempts. If you become a victim of ticket fraud in Dubai, these incidents should be reported using the Dubai Consumer mobile app, which was created by the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector of the Department of Economic Development (DED). Through this platform, DED aims to protect businesses and consumers alike from commercial fraud.

The writer is a threat researcher at Norton LifeLock by Symantec

Taking advantage of excited fans, scammers use various deception tactics to draw in a profit.

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