ONE in 10 people have been affected by ticket fraud in the UK.
Research carried out by STAR, the Society of Ticket Agencies and Retailers, reveals that one of the reasons the number of victims is worryingly high is that ticket buyers seem unaware of what measures they can take to protect themselves.
People splashing out to see their favourite performers are often putting themselves at risk - one in 10 say they would buy from a website if it "looks genuine", and another 10 per cent stated that they have never even considered checking the ticket outlet's authenticity.
The figures are revealed as STAR launches a new kitemark that identifies reputable ticket outlets that adhere to the self-regulatory body's code of conduct and are authorised to sell tickets by event organisers.
The instantly recognisable kitemark should help to bring about a crackdown on ticket fraudsters who claim more than half a million British victims every year.
The government's National Fraud Authority estimates that the cost of online ticket fraud alone is a staggering £168million a year.
While some consumers are web-savvy - 64 per cent of respondents to the national survey said they would only buy from a ticket outlet they'd use before - others often take chances with their hard-earned cash, with more than half of those surveyed claiming they would risk paying much more than the face value of the ticket to attend their dream event.
The consequences of buying a fraudulent ticket can be devastating for the buyer; some don't receive their tickets while others are turned away at the doors of the venue having paid for transport and parking, facing an embarrassing walk away from the event in front of crowds of other fans. And then of course there is the possibility that payment details have been left in the hands of unscrupulous criminals.
Those who have purchased fake tickets or experienced other problems with fraudulent sales will often have nowhere to turn to when things go wrong.
By purchasing tickets from outlets that display the STAR kitemark, either online or at the point of sale, consumers can be confident that the company is authorised to sell tickets and has signed up to the STAR code of practice, which assures high standards of service. The body also offers a dispute resolution service for consumers, in the unlikely event of problems encountered with its members.
"It is the show of strength that the entertainment ticketing industry has been waiting for," said Jonathan Brown, Secretary of STAR. "Ticket fraud is an industry-wide problem and we needed an industry-wide solution to tackle it head on.
"By introducing a ticketing industry kitemark, much like the trusted ABTA symbol consumers see when they book with reputable holiday companies, we can give the buyer confidence that they are getting the genuine article. By giving the ticket-buying public these assurances, we can all work together to help to reduce incidences of ticket fraud and the opportunities for those who unscrupulously prey on such an alarmingly high number of innocent people."
The kitemark is supported by major entertainment organisations such as the Concert Promoters Association, the National Arenas Association and The Society of London Theatre.
STAR was formed in 1997 to establish high standards of service across the industry and offer advice to the public about buying genuine tickets safely. STAR has worked with the Office of Fair Trading to establish model terms and conditions for the sale of tickets, and it works with other bodies, such as the Police and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to set industry standards.
"Consumer confidence is vital to the future of the industry," Mr Brown added. "By educating ticket buyers to choose authorised ticket sellers that operate under the STAR kitemark, we can help to significantly reduce ticket fraud and the damaging effect it has on the industry, as well as the potentially devastating consequences for consumers."
The research also showed that men are more likely to take risks with potentially dodgy dealers than women. Nearly twice as many men than women would consider trading with a ticket tout on the day of the event and more than 10 per cent of men would pay more than £100 over the ticket cost to see their dream event, compared to only seven per cent of female respondents.
Nearly 12 per cent of men have been affected by ticket fraud, compared to nine per cent of women.
For more information about STAR and advice on buying genuine tickets, visit www.star.org.uk. The website also lists all STAR members, which include major companies such as See Tickets, Ticketmaster and The Ticket Factory and many others. STAR members represent more than 90 per cent of tickets sold by authorised ticket sellers for entertainment events in the UK.