I just received two emails supposedly from the Geek Squad, the name of the technical assistance group of the Best Buy store. The first one was from a Brooke Lola who told me that my account had been auto-renewed and that my card had been charged the annual subscription fee of $349.99. If I didn’t authorize this, then they gave me a phone number to call but I had to do so within 24 hours. Then a few minutes later I got the identical message, except that it was from someone named Vernon Jarbine.
I have never dealt with the Geek Squad so of course I immediately suspected a scam and I checked my bank and credit card accounts to make sure that no such charge had been made. According to this article, this is one of seven variants of Geek Squad scams that are currently making the rounds.
The Geek Squad scam is just one example of the widespread tech support scam trend that cost Americans nearly $350 million in 2021 alone, according to the FBI [*].
Scammers prey on victims seeking technical help, or they use the names of recognizable companies (like Best Buy, Amazon, or Apple) to fool you into giving them money, personal information, or remote access to your computer.
If you need help with your computer or other electronic devices, the last thing you want is to end up getting scammed. So how can you tell if you’re dealing with the real Geek Squad and not a scammer?
In this guide, we’ll show you how to recognize and avoid the most common Geek Squad scams.
As that article says, there are some obvious signs that this is a scam, such as typos and grammatical errors and the absence of the official logo of the group. One might wonder why the people behind these scams do not take the simple and obvious steps to eliminate such errors. In fact, I was with a friend when he got a scam call and he said that if he were behind such scams, he would make it much harder to detect.
But those errors are a feature not a bug, based on the economics of these scams. There is almost no cost in the first phase which is to send out blanket emails. The cost lies in the next phase when the sucker calls the number to correct the ‘error’. The person on the phone will string the sucker along in order to get them to reveal financial information in order to rectify the ‘error’. This takes time and effort to successfully pull off.
The scam artists do not want to waste time on people who will figure out it is a scam somewhere along the line and hang up. If the initial approach is too slickly done, it will draw in people who will catch on at some point and those people are a waste of time. They want to weed out such people right at the beginning. They figure that people who do not notice the tell-tale signs and call them are more likely to fall for the scam.
And sadly, that is the case. Older people who are not very technically literate are especially the ones who are likely to use the services of these technical groups and thus more likely to be duped.