Late last month at a New Orleans Saints game, it was reported that several fans bought tickets that turned out to be counterfeit. Some...

Late last month at a New Orleans Saints game, it was reported that several fans bought tickets that turned out to be counterfeit. Some came from scalpers who had as many as 20 to 25 bogus tickets. Others came from online sellers who claimed to have purchased the tickets directly from Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, where NFL tickets are bought and sold.

Obviously, any time fans have a negative ticketing experience, it is a concern. But it is also a reminder that it doesn’t have to happen. Implementing a non-restrictive paperless ticketing system is the best defense against fraud and in the best interests of fans, teams, artists, venues — and even legitimate ticket brokers.

Any time a physical ticket exists, it creates an opportunity for fraud. Unfortunately, this fraud can take many forms by scammers looking to take advantage of consumers. They can create counterfeit tickets that look like the real thing and sell them on the street, they can generate print-at-home tickets with barcodes that have already been cancelled , or they can copy a legitimate ticket and sell it multiple times, knowing only the first person who enters with the ticket will have a valid bar code. Eliminating paper tickets removes the opportunity to create a fake.

With paperless tickets, the rights to a seat are tied to a unique user identification — either a credit card or a state-issued ID such as a driver’s license. With non-restrictive paperless ticketing systems, such as our Flash Seats® platform, fans can purchase the guaranteed seat online. Legitimate buyers can also transfer the ticket to another person via e-mail. Paperless ticket holders can only receive the ticket if they have an online account with a unique ID. The unique form of identification is the ticket, validating the ability to enter the venue and ensuring that ticket is legitimate and owned by the attendee.

When it is time to go to the game, fans simply show their registered electronic ID, which is swiped by a hand-held device. The system verifies they have a legitimate seat, and they enter the event. There is no chance for a scam artist to create a fraudulent ticket anywhere in the chain — from original purchase to venue entry. Consumers are protected at every stage of the process.

From a fan perspective, this system keeps intact the most important element for building and maintaining a long-term relationship — trust. Experience tells us that fans will return again and again if they know the ticketing system is safe, secure and reliable.

From a team, artist or venue perspective, eliminating the opportunity for fans to be victims of fraud is an important step in protecting the game experience. If a fan purchases a fake ticket, they are more likely to remember having a negative experience and associate it with the team, artist or venue. Taking this possibility out of the equation by implementing a secure team-, venue- or artist-endorsed online paperless ticketing system ultimately protects the fan experience and extends the relationship with the true fans.

Paperless ticketing systems are actually good for legitimate ticket brokers and are already working well for many. Operating on a team, artist or venue-branded secondary ticketing marketplace, brokers can buy, sell and transfer tickets safely and securely. As business people, they can handle these transactions in an online environment that engenders trust and leverages the long-standing relationships that teams, artists and venues have with their fans.

Any time fans are victims of ticketing fraud, it is a black mark on the ticketing industry. As Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, but just five minutes to ruin it.” When I see things like what happened in New Orleans, it serves as a reminder that we, as an industry, must constantly be on guard and protective of our fans or all our reputations will suffer. Despite the best efforts of so many people to maintain professional standards in the ticketing industry, fans still too often need to take a “buyer beware” stance. But, it doesn’t need to be that way.

Developing trusted sources for buying, selling and transferring tickets is an important step in maintaining positive relationships with fans. Teams, artists and venues already have invested years and countless millions of dollars to build relationships with their fans. These relationships can be protected and enhanced if more teams, artists and venues take the initiative to develop a non-restrictive paperless ticketing system. It is in the best long-term interests of everyone involved.

Jeff Kline is the president of digital ticketing provider Veritix. He delivers many years of sales, marketing and organizational expertise to his position, and among his jobs prior to joining the Veritix, Kline spent 14 years in various senior management roles with Ticketmaster and served as executive vice president in the office of the chairman. During his time at Ticketmaster, Kline was instrumental in helping the company grow and expand into new areas of business and services. In addition, Kline has served as vice president/chief of staff at Media Live International (formerly Key3 Media) and as senior executive vice president of business affairs at TBA Global Events.