As any number of music lovers can tell you, ticket touts and scammers have become the scourge of the summer months. Last year’s music festivals were marred when a number of fraudulent websites sprung up offering fans tickets to events that had already sold out. Thousands of fans were left disappointed and hundreds of pounds out of pocket when their tickets failed to arrive.

In the majority of cases, the criminals behind these sites have no intention of supplying any tickets. It is often not until the event day arrives that the extent of how many people have been ripped off becomes apparent. Unfortunately some fans will pay out the money for a ticket now and not realise that they aren’t able to attend the event until their ticket doesn’t arrive or they are informed at gates that the ticket is a fake.

After the disastrous problems of last year, some festival organisers have realised that, by working with, not against, the secondary market they can offer consumer protection and make sure their festivals are not disrupted by ticketing issues. These partnerships mean that fans who were unsuccessful the first time round will still have the opportunity to get their hands on tickets without fear of being defrauded. In the past, these fans would use unauthorized ticket exchanges or buy from unauthorized agents, thereby often ending up sorely disappointed.

The organisers of the Isle of Wight and the Reading, Leeds and Latitude Festivals have all made viagogo their official secondary ticketing partner. This means that if fans use viagogo to get their festival tickets they are guaranteed entry.

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Festival goers need to be especially vigilant this year to ensure they don’t become the latest victims. They must learn not to trust just any website that claims to have tickets. Just because a site has a Google link and a slick interface doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate.

People should do their research before buying tickets online. It’s important to verify that a website is reputable, rather than just looking like it. Check to see if the site has partnerships with any reputable music industry players. Have any artists or festivals been willing to vouch for the site’s integrity? It’s also worth investigating whether the company is based in the UK as many sites operate abroad to avoid the authorities. Finally, you should make sure the company has real, reputable backers and investors.

15 for $15 with Napster!Of course just because a company is reputable doesn’t mean that your tickets will be guaranteed. Ebay is a great website, but it doesn’t work well for time specific events like festivals. If the tickets arrive late or if they turn out to be counterfeit, there will be no refund or recourse. Music fans should not take chances with these general auction sites.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudsters will offer tickets at eye catching low prices to entice people to buy, but a bargain ceases to be a bargain when the tickets don’t arrive.

Inevitably, because of the demand for festival tickets in the UK, fans will turn to the secondary market in 2009 to secure their place at these events. If these fans follow the above advice about how to buy safely on the secondary market then they will end up enjoying their favourite festival rather than being left outside the gates, empty-handed and disappointed.

Eric Baker is the Founder and CEO of UK-based, secondary ticket company viagogo, which he launched in the summer of 2006. Prior to viagogo, Eric founded StubHub, the leading U.S. online secondary ticketing company for live events. Eric has also worked as an associate with Bain Capital, a private equity firm based in Boston, and worked the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

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