Straight Talk: Small businesses spot invoice scam using Geek Squad, PayPal
Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
You may have encountered a fake invoice if you are running a small business, or keeping the books for one.
Phony bills have long been a favorite and effective trick of scammers. Recently, BBB.org/ScamTracker has received multiple reports of a new version of this scam where con artists pretend to be contacting you as part of the Geek Squad, which is owned by Best Buy or through PayPal.
How the scam works
You receive an invoice that says it’s coming from the Geek Squad. It says you will be charged hundreds of dollars for an annual subscription that is about to auto-renew. The email may include a PDF version of the invoice and a number for you to call if you want to cancel the subscription.
Panicked and sure you never authorized this subscription; you call the number. A “customer service agent” answers and pretends to assist you with the cancellation. They may offer you a refund or ask you to confirm your bank account information so they can cancel the subscription. If you give them that sensitive information, they will likely gain access to your account and can withdraw money without your consent. Remember, if you click on links in the email they could download malware onto your computer and put you at risk of identity theft.
One consumer reported this experience: “The Geek Squad sent an email saying they were going to auto charge me $422.22 for an annual subscription. I called the number in the email to cancel the renewal. They told me I had to fill out a form, which I did. However, when they asked me to click on a specific link on my bank account website, I became suspicious and told them I was going to report a scam. They would not give up and just kept telling me to go to my bank’s website and click the link. I hung up and deleted the email.”
Unfortunately, fake Geek Squad invoices are not the only version of this scam. A new iteration looks like a vendor requesting payment via PayPal. Similar to the Geek Squad version, the message urges you to call "customer service" if "the payment was not authorized, or you wish to cancel this charge."
How to avoid this scam
- Be wary of unsolicited emails. If you do not remember doing business with the company they claim to be from, be careful. Even if you do business with a company, be careful if you receive an email you did not ask for or authorize. Scammers love to impersonate companies that are well-known and trusted by consumers.
- Know how invoices will be delivered. If you sign up for a service or subscription, ask how the company will deliver its invoices. That way, you will not be fooled if scammers send you a copycat invoice through a different channel.
- Train your staff to spot a fake invoice. As a small business owner, you may not personally look at every invoice from your accounts department. Ensure your employees know how to differentiate a real invoice from a scam.
- Have questions about a Geek Squad message? Reach out to Best Buy. Customers can call 1-888-BESTBUY to confirm whether a suspicious email is real. Also, check out BestBuy.com/StopFraud for more resources to help spot cybercrime, fraud, and tech support scams.
For more information – If you have been the victim of a scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker . Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.
For BBB information – Visit BBB.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more!