The ticket industry is changing, and more and more people are turning to the secondary market when shopping for live events. But with this uncharted territory comes questions: “Why is someone else’s name on my ticket?” “Can I scan into the event with my phone?” and most commonly, “Is my ticket fake?”

Although fake tickets are often a customer’s main concern when purchasing from the secondary market, fewer than one percent of orders are subject to fraud.* The reason being: sellers don’t make any money when they sell fake tickets. In fact, they lose money! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Keep reading to get the 101 on what makes a ticket invalid, how you can avoid it from happening, and what to do if it does.

Why Tickets Become Invalid

It should be mentioned that when a “ticket” becomes invalid, what we’re really talking about is the barcode on the ticket. That’s what gets scanned upon entering an event. Without getting into too much detail, here are the two most likely reasons why that would happen.

1. The Ticket Was Sold Twice

The most common reason for a ticket being invalid is that the broker inadvertently sold it twice. For instance, Joe the Seller decides to list his Adele ticket on SeatGeek and then turn around and list it on UberSeat. Two separate customers could then purchase the same ticket around the same time. Since each ticket barcode can only be used once to enter an event, one of those tickets will not work at the gate. The buyer who happens to arrive second will not be able to enter with the same ticket.

Most ticketing companies (like SeatGeek) make sellers agree that they will not list their inventory on more than one website in order to avoid double-selling. Any honest, intelligent broker will cancel the double-sold order as soon as they can, and notify the customer within a few hours, leaving them plenty of time to make a second ticket order. SeatGeek also imposes penalties on sellers who break this rule, so double-selling is exceedingly rare. Sellers want to avoid fines just as much as buyers want to get into their events!

2. You Bought it From an Unreliable Source

We’ve all seen the sketchy men dressed in all black hawking tickets outside of popular sold-out shows. They’ll generally be charging a hefty price (much higher than face value) and the whole thing feels a bit…shady. That’s because it is! Never buy tickets from somebody who doesn’t look like they could also be going to the same show. Snagging tickets from a dude standing outside the venue is a huge gamble. Scalper tickets could work just fine, but if they don’t, getting your money back is impossible.

How to Make Sure Your Ticket is Legit

So now that we’ve thoroughly freaked you out about your fake ticket, here are a few steps you can take to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

1. Download E-Tickets in Advance

Don’t wait until the last minute to download your e-ticket. Once it gets sent to your email (usually right after purchase or at least one week before the event), download it, review it, and make sure it looks accurate. This will give you enough time to contact the people you bought it from in case there are issues. FYI, the name on the ticket will almost never be your name when you purchase it using a site like SeatGeek. But no worries–you won’t be asked for ID when entering the venue, and the name will cause you no trouble at all. The name printed on a ticket does not have to be your name for you to get in.

2. Check at the Box Office

Although you should avoid suspicious street sellers, there are usually many normal people standing in line trying to rid themselves of extras outside a show. If you do decide to buy from somebody attending the concert, ask them to come with you to the box office so you can both confirm the validity of the ticket together.

3. Use Common Sense

When purchasing tickets from the secondary market (i.e. not from the official ticket source), the best advice we can give you is to use your best judgement and read the fine print. Is the ticket behind the stage, is it for the correct game or show day, does it look similar to the ticket your friend has? Are you paying $20 for a Super Bowl ticket? Because you might have accidentally bought a parking pass instead. Shop around to see what’s already on the market so that you can make an educated purchase.

4. Call the Venue to Confirm Details

Although the venue won’t be able to tell if your barcode is valid or not, they can confirm the section, seat number and show start time for you. If you review your ticket and are suspicious of its details, this may be a good option.

What to Do if Your Ticket is Invalid

OK, so let’s just pretend that you’re the less-than-one-percent person who had the misfortune of being sold a fake or invalid ticket. Here’s what you can do–this instant!–to get your booty in the door.

1. Contact the customer service of the marketplace where you bought your tickets (If you purchased through SeatGeek, you can check out the contact options at our Help Center.)

2. If the event is still listed on SeatGeek, you can purchase another ticket with the knowledge that you will be refunded for the original purchase. If the show is not sold out, purchase a ticket through the box office with the knowledge that you will be refunded for the original purchase.

3. If your vendor was not SeatGeek, the first step would be to call that vendor to report the issue. A full list of vendors can be found here.

4. Lastly, if your ticket doesn’t work, make sure you get any possible documentation of that from the venue. This will assure you are able to get your money back quickly when you reach out to the team.

Why Your Ticket Probably Isn’t Fake

At the end of the day, chances are your ticket is totally legit. You know why? Because most people working as a broker are doing it as a way to make money, and continually selling invalid tickets will tarnish their reputation and inevitably cause them to lose money. When tickets don’t work, not only will the seller not receive any payment, but they will be forced to pay back more than the original sale price of the ticket. Plus, once a seller has been shown to be problematic, they’re flagged with whatever vendor they’ve sold the fake ticket through and can no longer sell on that website.

At SeatGeek, our goal is to get you into the event you paid to attend, period. You put your trust in us, and in exchange, we make sure you have a great time and don’t have to worry about the validity of your tickets. Concerts and games can be expensive, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the experience. We understand that simple truth, and we are doing our best to make invalid tickets a thing of the past.

*Based on SeatGeek data