Better Business Bureau issues another scam alert

You may have encountered a fake invoice if you are running a small business (or keeping books for one).

Phony bills have long been a favorite and effective trick of scammers. Recently, BBB Scam Tracker has gotten 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 (BBB Accredited Business) or through PayPal (BBB Accredited Business).

How the scam works
You receive an invoice that says it’s coming from the Geek Squad. It says you’ll 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’ll likely gain access to your account and can withdraw money without your consent. Even if you stop short of calling “customer service,” downloading any PDFs or clicking links in the email 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 wouldn’t 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.”

Fake Geek Squad invoices aren’t 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 fake invoice scams
Be wary of unsolicited emails, especially if you don’t remember doing business with the company they claim to come from.

Even if you do business with a company, be careful if you receive an email you didn’t 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 won’t be fooled if scammers send you a copycat invoice through a different channel.

BBB Accredited Businesses promise to adhere to BBB’s Standards for Trust, so look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal. It’s the Sign of a Better Business.

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.

Don’t give in to scare tactics
Scammers will use a sense of urgency to get you to give up sensitive information or make payments without thinking. If someone tells you you’ll lose hundreds of dollars if you don’t act now, don’t be easily intimidated. Always do proper research before agreeing to any transactions – especially unexpected ones.

Have questions about a Geek Squad message?
Reach out to Best Buy. Customers can call (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
Read the BBB Tip about spotting a phony email. Learn other ways to protect your business from scams and maintain a good reputation in your community by visiting BBB.org/SmallBusiness and BBB.org/AvoidScams.

If you spot a scam, report it at BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help other small business owners learn about common scam tactics.

Learn how to become a BBB Accredited Business.