Taking Back the ID

Fake Geek Squad scams and what to do if you fall victim to credit card fraud

Need help to fix your broken computer? Beware of geeks bearing gifts. They could be fake technicians who want to access your laptop remotely pretending to work for reputable companies. Here’s some advice to avoid these types of scams.

Kerry Binder thought of herself as a real computer jock. When she had a problem with her computer that she couldn’t solve, she contacted the Geek Squad, retailer Best Buy’s tech support service, for help. One day she received a text message saying she’d been charged hundreds of dollars to renew her Geek Squad membership. She knew nothing about this and thought that this was an error. The text message said Binder could dispute the charge or cancel her membership by calling a phone number within 24 hours. When she made the call, a scammer told her that he had to gain remote access to her computer to help her. When he’d finished rummaging around in her computer, he told her that he’d corrected the error and apologized for the mistake.

A week later, Kerry found that her bank account had a zero balance. A bank employee told her that when she gave the scammer remote access to her computer, he probably installed a spyware program that stole her bank account information.

This case is fictional, but represents this recent scam posted on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. (See “How to recognize a fake Geek Squad renewal scam,” by Alvaro Puig, FTC, Oct. 25, 2022.)

Puig, the author of the FTC article, offers the following advice:

  • If you think the message is legitimate, contact the company in question using a phone number you know is real. Don’t use the number included in the message.
  • If you see an unauthorized transaction on your credit card or in your bank account, ask the credit card company or bank to reverse it and give you back your money.
  • Report it or any other scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • Also, if you paid a scammer or gave them personally identifiable information (PII) or access to your computer, read the helpful advice in my November/December 2022 Fraud Magazine column, “Inheritance scam, improving cybersecurity protection and what to do if you get scammed,” to help resolve these issues.

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