BBB’s here to Help Protect you this March from Madness

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Evan Arnold-Gordon
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

Every March, sports fans nationwide tune in to one of the most captivating events on television: March Madness. This year’s annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament tips off on March 19 with games being played in both Anaheim, CA and San Jose, CA.

Getting tickets for the “big dance” can be difficult however, with fan bases from different universities being willing to travel across the country to see their team play, so be cautious. In 2018, BBB received over 3,100 complaints against ticket brokers and event ticket sales companies. Consumers often complain about issues acquiring refunds and misleading advertising.

Along with buying tickets, March Madness usually means an increase in team gear being purchased to support your favorite team. BBB Scam Tracker reported nearly 900 cases of counterfeit product scams in 2018 with consumers averaging $150 in total losses. Some of these counterfeit goods can mimic authentic gear right down to the trademarked logo, so be careful. When buying any team gear online, it’s best to buy it from the team’s website directly.

Help ensure your March Madness is a slam dunk this year by following these BBB tips:

  • Watch out for ticket scams. The best way to buy March Madness tickets is through the NCAA’s website. If they’re sold out and you need to go through a reseller, make sure to look the business up on to see their BBB Rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers. There are a number of trustworthy BBB Accredited resellers to choose from. Before buying, read the refund and guarantee policies carefully to see all the details and any buyer protections. Anytime you purchase a ticket on a secondary ticket resale market, ticket fraud can occur. Visit for tips.
  • Do your research when traveling. When booking a flight or hotel through an online site, make sure to look the site up on Reading about a business online can help you avoid scams and issues that others have dealt with already. According to the BBB Risk Index, the travel/vacation scam was ranked as the 8th riskiest scam to consumers in 2017. Over 2,500 were reported to BBB Scam Tracker, and the median loss was nearly $1,200. Learn more about these scams at
  • Don’t fall for a prize scam. If you receive an email out of the blue claiming that you won a free trip and tickets to a March Madness game, don’t get too excited. In 2017, consumers reported more than 2,800 sweepstakes/lottery/prize scams to BBB Scam Tracker – making it the fourth most-reported scam of 2017. Remember, if you’re told you won a prize but have to pay to receive it, it’s most likely a scam. Learn more at
  • Be careful buying apparel. The safest way to ensure that you’re buying authentic merchandise is by purchasing from the NCAA’s official shop or the official shop of your favorite team. You can also buy from authorized resellers, but if you’re unfamiliar with the business or website, make sure to look it up at If an item is far less expensive than those from official shops, it’s probably a fake. Watch out for any spelling or grammar errors on the website or merchandise. Learn more at and
  • Stay safe online. Make sure every website you visit has a privacy policy and glance it over. Look for the “https:” – the “s” stands for “secure” – and other trust marks. You may see ads touting bracket contests or cheap merchandise while surfing the web, but avoid the urge to click on them. They may lead you to fraudulent websites that’ll try to steal your personal or financial information, or download a virus to your computer. This is especially important when you’re filing out online March Madness brackets. Make sure that you trust any website that’s receiving your information, and be careful sharing too many personal details.  

Check out to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow us on social media, and more.

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting