Starting March 1, buying concert tickets in NJ will be safer
Come March 1, you should have an easier time navigating the web for face-value concert, show and sporting-event tickets.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy at the end of January prohibits website operators from offering tickets using an Internet domain name that's intentionally misleading or deceptive to consumers.
Specifically, the measure makes it unlawful for a domain name to be adjusted so it appears to be affiliated with a venue, or the name of a specific event. The so-called white-label sites typically pop up near the top of an Internet search because their operators pay to be there.
"These unscrupulous website operators create a site that deliberately mimics an authentic website to trick consumers into believing they are on the 'official' site of the event, charging them inflated prices, " said state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), a sponsor of the measure. "Consumers need this protection."
Under the law, which takes effect on the first day of the second month following its signing, violators face a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense, and up to $20,000 for subsequent offenses. Violations can also result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General.
The measure was approved unanimously in both the state Senate and Assembly.
The Federal Trade Commission in 2014 began requiring the websites in question to carry disclaimers that the site is not officially linked to a specific venue. Often, these disclaimers are in text that is hard to find, Pou's office said.
Google has its own standards for ticket-reselling sites that advertise through the search engine. Words like "official" can't be included in ads, for example, unless the reseller can prove its affiliated with the event.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.