Become a safer, more confident driver with the AARP Smart Driver course! Use the promo code VET and save 25% during November.
by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, - November 24, 2008
As Barack Obama prepares to make history on Jan. 20, scammers are already making their own—with offers to sell pricey tickets to the presidential inauguration ceremony.
Don’t buy it. “Any website or ticket broker claiming that they have inaugural tickets is simply not telling the truth,” warned Howard Gantman, director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, in a prepared statement. “We urge the public to view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism.”
Authentic inauguration tickets—an estimated 240,000 of them—have not yet been released. When they are, they are supposed to be free, and are available to citizens only through their U.S. senators and representatives. Those elected officials will not distribute their allocation until about one week before the inauguration. The tickets will provide coveted access to bleacher seats along the inaugural parade route, set to follow Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol, where Obama will be sworn into office. Street-level viewing spaces are free and do not require tickets (although some scammers are trying to sell those as well).
The rush to sell bogus tickets (some priced as high as $20,000) began within days of the Nov. 4 election, prompting warnings from federal officials, the Better Business Bureau and state attorneys general.
Web marketer eBay announced it would remove all such postings from its site, where asking prices had ranged from $1,950 to $7,500 per ticket. But other websites are still advertising tickets; some dubious online ticket brokers even promise a “money-back” guarantee if they don’t deliver.
Again, the word is buyer beware. “Considering these online brokers won’t even know for certain they have tickets until just before the inauguration, an American looking to be a part of history might travel all the way to Washington and spend Jan. 20 watching the swearing-in from their hotel room,” Steve Cox, a Better Business Bureau spokesman, said in a press statement.
Your best bet to snag bleacher tickets? Contact your U.S. senator or representative. But be advised: Many have already received thousands of requests. For more information, visit the website of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. If you already have purchased online inauguration tickets, consider filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and your state attorney general’s office.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life (AARP Books/Sterling).
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Get tips and resources to protect yourself from fraud and see the latest scam alerts in your state.
Members save 15% on in-store purchases of frozen yogurt, treats and apparel.
Exclusive program for members from The Hartford.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at