Geek Squad Scams: Fake Calls, Texts and Emails to Avoid
Even the best of us occasionally get stumped by particularly tricky tech problems. At times like these, we turn to pros like the Geek Squad for help. But what happens when our trusty “helpers” aren’t so trustworthy?
Geek Squad is a well-known tech support company owned by Best Buy. They provide quality, reliable services such as repairs, installations, and remote assistance to more than 2 million subscribers, not to mention one-time users. Suffice it to say, they have a solid reputation.
This is exactly where scammers come in. They take advantage of a reputable name like Best Buy and take advantage of customers while their guard is completely down. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most common Geek Squad scams and how to protect yourself from them.
What’s at stake with Geek Squad scams?
While you should be wary of any type of fraud, Geek Squad scams pose a particular risk. This is because Geek Squad deals directly with your devices, putting it in a unique position to potentially access your sensitive data.
Many people’s greatest fear is losing money to a scam, but losing critical information (bank details, passwords, Social Security numbers, and ID numbers) is arguably worse.
With these details, scammers can target you with further attacks, hijack your accounts and devices, blackmail you, steal your cryptocurrency (particularly if you keep your assets on an exchange), or steal your identity.
How to spot Geek Squad scams
Before we dive into our list of the top Geek Squad scams, here are some common red flags that you should look out for.
Grammar and spelling mistakes
Check to make sure that the email or message you have received does not contain grammatical and spelling errors. These types of errors are particularly common with Geek Squad email scams and text scams, as well as other similar types of fraud.
Don’t let good grammar fool you, though. Some scams may be very well written.
A sense of urgency
Another common red flag is a sense of urgency. If the message gives rise to any strong emotion, step away for a moment and cool off. It’s better to act smart than to act quick. Once your mind has cleared a bit, read the email again and pay attention to the details. An emotional recipient is far more likely to fall for a scam than a level-headed one.
Assess how the email is drafted, as a whole. Large corporations put millions into developing their tone of voice and signature style. Check to see if the email is lacking attractive visuals such as banners and images.
An official email from Geek Squad is more likely to be full of visuals rather than just plain text on a white background. If the letter doesn’t look professional, steer clear! On the flip side, a polished and professional appearance doesn’t guarantee it isn’t a scam.
Offers that are too good to be true
Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This should be your mantra whenever you see a special offer online. Dangling an irresistible reward or bargain in front of you is a common tactic used by scammers. Before you bite the lure, ask yourself “does this make sense?”
For example, feedback is important to any company, sure. But is it worth handing out free iPhones for it? Definitely not.
Unofficial email addresses
Check the sender’s email address for inconsistencies. A large company like Best Buy will never reach out to you from an unofficial email account. Scammers usually take addresses that closely resemble the company’s official email.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Extra numbers or symbols in the sender’s email address,
- The email address ends with anything other than the company’s official email domain, e.g. [email protected]
Requests for personal information
The scammer might ask for personal information as a means of confirming your identity. Geek Squad (as well as most legitimate companies) will never request personal information from you. Never provide private data to anyone over the phone or by text or email.
Do not click on any external links you see in an email or text message. The link could lead to a fake Geek Squad webpage that’s designed to steal your data and/or is littered with malware. This holds true even if the URL looks legit. Always visit the company website and try to find the page there instead of following a link.
The 8 most common Geek Squad scams and how they work
With the general red flags out of the way, let’s dive into specific scams and break down how each one works.
Geek Squad subscription renewal scam
This is among the most recent and most dangerous Geek Squad scams out there. The Geek Squad subscription renewal scam involves an email or text from the scammers claiming that you’ve signed up for a Geek Squad subscription and will be charged a large sum of money unless you cancel.
The Geek Squad renewal email scam can often transition into a “refund scam.” This is when the scammer “transfers” a larger refund than required and demands that you reimburse the difference.[image 1]
How to identify a fake Geek Squad renewal notification scam:
- You get an invoice or an auto-renewal notice for Geek Squad services you didn’t request.
- There are indicators in the message that it’s a phishing scam. For instance, it contains spelling and grammar mistakes, doesn’t use the correct Geek Squad logo, and doesn’t originate from a “BestBuy.com” email address.
- You’re asked to call a phone number other than the official Best Buy number to “resolve” the error.
Geek Squad antivirus scam
In this scam, con artists pretend to be Geek Squad tech specialists and inform you that your device has malware on it. They’ll pressure you to download “antivirus software” or grant them remote access to your device.
The “antivirus software” will contain malware that enables criminals to snoop on you and your computer. If you grant a hacker remote access to your device, they can do whatever they want with it, like search for passwords or blackmail you with private images, videos, or documents.
How to identify a fake antivirus phishing attack:
- You receive an unsolicited email or call alleging that malware has been found on your device. Remember, without direct access to your computer, nobody can tell you whether it has been infected or hacked.
- They ask for remote access to your device to “solve” the problem. Always be wary if someone asks you to download software or wants access to your computer.
Geek Squad tech support phone call scam
Geek squad tech support scams are frequently carried out over the phone. The scammers call and try to convince you that you owe money for services or that your device is infected with malware. Be cautious when someone calls you from an unknown number.
Scammers can also create a fake website that contains a fake Geek Squad tech support number. If you try to dial one, you’ll reach their call center, and they begin executing the scam.
How to identify a Geek Squad phone call scam:
- You get an unexpected phone call from Geek Squad. Businesses like this hardly ever get in touch with you personally.
- They won’t let you hang up once you’re on the phone. Scammers are aware that if you hang up, their scheme will fail. They’ll do and say anything to keep you chatting.
Browser pop-ups claiming your device is infected with viruses
In other cases scammers will design pop-ups to convince you that your device is infected with a virus. These types of pop-ups are frequent on dubious websites like adult portals and unauthorized streaming services. Your screen will be covered by a pop-up message that reads something along the lines of “12 viruses detected! Secure your device now!”
When you click the pop-up, it will download software that appears to be an antivirus or “device cleaner”. Actually, this is adware, malware, or ransomware. It might even contain a keylogger, which records everything you enter to steal passwords and other important data.
How to identify a fake virus browser pop-up scam:
- You receive a notification telling you that your device has been infected. Your device cannot be scanned for viruses by a browser plugin.
- ‘Device cleaning’ programs should be avoided since they frequently contain malware. If you’re unsure about it, search for the name of the app or software suite plus the word “scam” or “safe” to see what comes up.
Fake BestBuy.com password reset scam
For this one, scammers pretend to be from Best Buy and send a Geek Squad phishing email claiming that your “password reset didn’t work.” However, the link will lead to a phishing website designed to steal your personal information. It will look like the “BestBuy.com” login page but don’t let that fool you.[image 2]
If you enter your real “BestBuy.com” credentials, the scammers will have full control over your account. They will be able to make fraudulent transactions, purchase untraceable gift cards, or steal your personal and financial data.
How to identify a fake password reset scam email:
- You get an email asking you to reset the password for an account you don’t own.
- You are directed to a non-secure or unofficial “BestBuy.com” website when you click the link.
Accidental refund or overpayment scams
The “accidental refund” scam happens when a scammer sends you stolen money and demands that you return it. A fake Geek Squad renewal email is the first step of this scam. When you call the fake Geek Squad customer support number provided in the message, they’ll ask you to fill out a form in order to receive your refund.
The form will be broken or inoperable. In order to assist you in completing the reimbursement, the “support representative” will request remote access to your PC.
You will then observe as they “accidentally” issue you an excessive refund. Then they’ll request that you wire the difference back into their account or purchase and send them gift cards. However, this is all part of the scam!
The overcharge either won’t won’t clear, or was never made in the first place, using smoke and mirrors to make it appear that way on your browser when you log in to your bank account to check. Either way, it leavess you out of pocket for the amount of the difference.
How to identify a Geek squad overpayment scam:
- Scammers ask to control your computer remotely so they can arrange a refund.
- Money is refunded to your account by wire transfer. Don’t send any money if this occurs. Wait a few days for the money to clear, or get in touch with your bank and explain the situation.
Geek squad protection plan scam email
While sometimes not as harmful as the other scams on our list, this useless protection plan might still cause serious damage. In this scam, con artists who pretend to be technicians get in touch with you by phone or email and try to offer you a security product like antivirus software.
However, these “tools” either have malware embedded in them or are simply useless, at best. They are merely designed to swindle you out of some cash.
How to identify a “worthless” digital security service:
- The tool isn’t featured on reputable review websites like Security.org or has no online reviews.
- You receive unsolicited calls offering these cybersecurity products.
Scam campaigns don’t always end once the victim has already fallen for a single scam. Some scammers stick around to milk what they can from the aftermath. Understandably emotional and often careless as a result, victims of scams can sometimes act in a frenzy to try to recover their losses.
Scammers know this. If you have recently fallen for another scam, the criminals may return, posing as a member of the Geek Squad, and offer to repair the device or recover the money or information you’ve lost.
Don’t fall for it, though. These scammers will simply grab even more of your money and disappear, leaving you high and dry for a second time.
How to protect yourself from Geek Squad scams
You can stay safe online without continually questioning “is this a scam?” by forming a few basic habits. But following them without fail is the price of that security.
A scammer’s main goal is to either take your money or your private information. Remember that a reputable company will never ask for your personal details, passwords, bank details, etc. The best way to keep your private data safe is to not give it away to anyone.
Never pay in vouchers or gift cards
A legitimate business will simply never ask for a payment to be done with any sort of gift cards. Scammers frequently ask for payments in gift cards as they are untraceable.
External links could lead you to fake login pages, websites infected with malware or viruses, and websites designed to steal your private information from you. Don’t click on external links sent to you via email or text.
Even if the source is trustworthy, still check the link address before going to it.
What to do if you fell victim to a Geek Squad scam
Even if you’re extra vigilant while navigating the internet, nobody is 100% safe from scams. Even just the slip of a finger at the wrong time could land you in trouble. If you’ve fallen victim to any of these scams, for whatever reason, we’ll walk you through some steps you’ll want to take next.
Before you delete or erase any communication you’ve had with a scammer, gather and save as much evidence as you can. This will be useful when you approach the authorities with your case.
If you have been exposed to scammers and they’ve got their hands on your personal information, freeze all your bank accounts. Contact your bank and explain the situation. Block your cards and all unauthorized activities on your account. This will prevent the scammers from opening new accounts or applying for loans in your name.
Disconnect your device from the internet
If you have a suspicion that your device has been compromised, disconnect it from the internet as soon as possible! This will prevent any further damage from being done to you and your device.
Delete any programs or applications installed by the scammer
After disconnecting from the internet, go through your device and delete applications and programs installed by the scammers. If you are not tech-savvy enough to do this independently, we recommend taking your device to a specialist.
Use antivirus software to identify persistent malware
There are many options when it comes to antiviruses, both free and paid. Before purchasing an antivirus we recommend looking up reviews for it online and making sure it fits your needs. Installing proper antivirus software can protect you from unwanted programs, viruses, and remote access attempts.
Change the passwords on all of your accounts, and turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
Scammers have many ways of stealing your account information such as the fake “BestBuy.com” password reset scam, browser pop-ups claiming your device is infected with viruses, or the Geek Squad antivirus scam.
If you suspect that your account information might be compromised, reset all your passwords, including your banking credentials, and enable two-factor authentication. This will prevent anyone from accessing your accounts without your permission.
File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
You can reach out to the Better Business Bureau if the scam you encountered involved a registered company. You can use this BBB complaint form.
Report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission
Use the FTC website to report what happened. The FTC uses such reports to bring cases against those responsible.
Begin the identity recovery process
Many of the scams we mentioned can squeeze enough personal information from victims to make identity theft a real threat. This could apply to you if you provided your Social Security number or granted the scammers access to your computer.
To start the damage control and identity recovery process, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft portal.
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