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Cracking down on ticket bots that leave you out in the cold


January 22, 2021

Alvaro Puig

Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

For most of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to attend a live event. Think back, if you can, to the last time you tried to buy tickets online to go to a concert, a game, or a play. Were you shut out because tickets sold out before you got yours? You’re not alone.

So what happened? Sometimes there just aren’t enough tickets available for everyone who wants to attend an event, especially if promoters save tickets for artists and other VIPs. Ticket bots may also be a factor. People may use software to buy tickets quicker than the average consumer. They also might use bots to cheat the ticketing system and bypass ticket limits or to buy tickets using fake names and addresses. Then they resell the tickets for higher prices. Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act to address these problems.

We (the Federal Trade Commission) settled three cases with companies that violated the BOTS Act. The companies circumvented Ticketmaster's security measures to buy thousands of tickets that they later re-sold at a profit. The court orders require the companies to stop their illegal ticket-buying practices and impose civil penalties. (Read the business blog post to learn more about the case.)

The next time you’re looking to score tickets to a must-see event:

  • Look for opportunities to buy tickets before they go on sale to the public. Sign up for newsletters or alerts from ticket sellers, artists, or venues, or follow them on social media. And check with your credit card company about promotions.
  • Set up an account with the ticket seller. That way you’ll be ready to buy as soon as tickets go on sale.
  • Check back. The promoters might make more tickets available after the initial release or add another show.