Saturday, June 13, 2009

Paperless Tickets

Somebody mentioned to me that the Miley Cyrus tour is going with paperless tickets. I had no idea what that meant so I looked it up and it's clever. They're using the credit card used to purchase the tickets as a code, basically, so to get into the arena you swipe the same credit card. It effectively becomes your ticket.

I used to do a lot of computer security stuff so I still have this awful habit where I hear about something like that and I try to figure out how to fraud the system.

I can see a bunch of pros and cons. You would have to think things through carefully if you wanted to give somebody tickets. If you got sick and really couldn't go it would be a real pain to legitimately sell the tickets. The scalpers have thought of some lame scary scenarios like somebody on craigslist saying oh, 13 year old girls, I'll sell you these tickets but you have to meet me to get in. Like they wouldn't have to meet him to get traditional tickets, only now they're doing it at the venue and not beforehand in an abandoned warehouse. Sounds like an improvement frankly.

Even if you had access to fake/blank credit cards nobody would believe that you would just hand it over so hopefully people will use some common sense there.

The best fraud I can come up with offhand is to use a low value gift card. Maybe buy the tickets on it, maybe not depending on if they have verificiation in place. And then that's your out - the scalper or fraudster says oh, I'm willing to give it up because it's a gift card that's almost used up, just has a couple of dollars on it. So for $500 you get a used-up gift card that may nor may not really have tickets associated with it. So I'm really interested to find out if there's some kind of way to check a credit card # to see if there are tickets associated with it.

It will be interesting to see if it works. I don't know why not - if they have the infrastructure to scan barcodes on home printed tickets, adding a swipe machine probably would be a little slower but not much less reliable. But they've never tried it on a scale this big before, and that's always bad news...

Update: Ah, ha! I got curious and checked the fine print on the Ticketmaster site and they're not accepting gift cards. Guess they thought of the same thing I did. So be warned - if somebody tries to sell you a gift card with tickets associated with it, it's a scam.

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