What Is the Geek Squad Scam, and How Can You Avoid It?

July 4, 2024 • Zachary Amos


What Is the Geek Squad Scam, and How Can You Avoid It? 

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-using-laptop-FlPc9_VocJ4

Meta: Have you heard of the Geek Squad scam? Learn about some common versions of it here and how to stay safe.

Many of today’s scammers capitalize on familiar brands and supposedly urgent circumstances to gain attention. Such is the case with the Geek Squad scam, which has taken several forms over the years. What should you know, and which steps should you take for protection? 

Common Characteristics of the Geek Squad Scam 

The first important thing to know is that the Geek Squad scam takes various forms, with some becoming more widespread than others. However, all use the brand name and require people to take certain actions to avoid undesirable consequences. 

These are some of scammers’ most frequent tactics because they hope people will instantly recognize the Geek Squad name and assume legitimacy. Relatedly, these tricks usually mention computer problems, unexpected bills or other circumstances most people want to resolve as soon as possible. 

This scam — and many others like it — targets people who may think before acting and will do so due to fear or feeling pressured. Geek Squad is a Best Buy subsidiary, so you’ve probably seen their logo while shopping at the electronics retailer. The company provides tech support for phones, tablets and similar electronics, but you can also rely on it to troubleshoot problems with large appliances, such as washing machines.

Geek Squad also boosts Best Buy’s profits because you can add the company’s protection plans when or after purchasing products. The company is not a scam, but criminals have capitalized on its name recognition to fool people. 

How Does the Geek Squad Email Scam Work?

One version of the Geek Squad scam initially targets people by email and text message, but it also has a phone call component. Everything starts when you receive something saying that your Geek Squad subscription will renew soon. Although the content typically features capitalization errors that might tip you off, it also contains some fake but genuine-seeming elements that could make you more trusting. 

For example, you’ll probably see customer ID and invoice numbers in the content. More critically, there is a phone number you’re instructed to call ASAP. Doing that will supposedly allow you to get an instant refund of the charge for this unexpected subscription renewal. However, as you may have already guessed, people at the other end of the provided phone number are in on the scam, too. 

Although you should not call the number, it’s good to know about some variations that can happen when people do. One approach is that the scammers will request remote access to the caller’s computer, usually because they’ve supposedly noticed a problem that they can fix. 

An alternative is that the person on the phone line asks for your payment information, usually related to the charges mentioned in the previously received email or text message. You can expect a drained bank account shortly after providing them. 

What to Know About the Order Confirmation Geek Squad Scam

One great thing about the internet is that it has made it incredibly easy to buy almost anything without leaving home or visiting a physical store during stated business hours. However, going online could make you more susceptible to scams, with some groups particularly at risk. 

For example, reports suggest older adults lose $34,200 on average after falling for online scams. That could be because many are less tech-savvy than younger generations. Plus, since some continually grow their wealth as they age, scammers may specifically target them. Order confirmations are part of online shopping, but unfortunately, not all are real. 

Another version of the Geek Squad scam comes as an order confirmation. It indicates the recipient has already paid for something, and they will soon receive tracking details. However, the small print near the bottom says people should call a phone number to cancel the order and states they only have a brief opportunity to do so. 

One example in an article debunking this scam shows a message where people must call within seven hours to have their orders canceled. That content also has generic greetings rather than specific recipient names, allowing scammers to cast wider nets when searching for potential victims. Although the message contains a purchase number, it also indicates the person paid by bank transfer, which Geek Squad does not accept as a valid method. 

Some emails sent as part of this order confirmation scam also contain fake invoices as attachments. However, you should never download them — or any unsolicited attachments because they could contain malware. 

Staying Safe From Geek Squad Scams

Although Geek Squad scams are becoming more prominent, you can still do some straightforward things to avoid falling for them. Many tips will also help you be more vigilant about similar tactics criminals use. 

Never call phone numbers mentioned in unusual emails or reply to the messages. Doing those things means you’ll connect directly with scammers who will try to fool you even more. Instead, go to the Best Buy or Geek Squad website and look for the real contact details. You can then use those to speak to someone who can give accurate information.

An even faster way to verify a scam is to check your bank account. If you or someone in your household made a Geek Squad purchase, you’ll see the transaction history on your statement or online transaction history. 

Remember, the goal of this scam is to cause confusion and alarm with a purchase you didn’t actually make. No one wants to spend money for no reason, so the gut reaction is to resolve the matter as soon as possible. However, using the details in the email or text message puts you in touch with scammers instead. 

The most practical thing to do is question every unexpected email or text message, especially if it demands payment or discusses a purchase you can’t remember. Relatedly, don’t react too quickly. The scam messages demand immediate responses because those behind them hope people will get too frazzled to consider the circumstances thoroughly.

Educate Others About the Geek Squad Scam

Geek Squad is not the first company associated with tech support and order confirmation scams, and it won’t be the last. Now that you know how to avoid scammers who use these approaches, why not tell others what you know? Doing that allows you to take a simple action that reduces the criminals’ overall success rates and keeps those you know safer from these attacks.