Cybercrime and fraud scams are a real and serious issue. Without knowing the facts, anyone, at any age, can easily become a victim of one of these often costly scams. At Best Buy, your safety and protection are incredibly important to us. We have a team of professionals working to stop these scams from becoming successful. However, since many scams begin, and can even take place entirely, outside of our stores, we’ve put together the following tips and resources to help keep you safe.
Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones against cybercrime and fraud scams.
Types of scams.
Gift card fraud scams.
Most gift card fraud happens when a scammer, pretending to be a family member or reputable entity (like the IRS, Social Security Administration, etc.), calls a consumer and asks them to pay taxes, hospital bills, bail or even utility bills with gift cards from well-known retail brands. Scammers may also impersonate a salesperson and request payment for things such as a car, boat or vacation via gift cards.
Similarly, romance scams happen when a scammer pretends to form a romantic relationship with their intended victim, often via a dating app, messaging site, or a series of phone calls before asking for money in the form of gift cards. These scammers typically claim to be overseas and in need of urgent financial help.
Another form of gift card fraud happens when a criminal offers a high-value gift card via a website advertisement, email or text message. The scam directs consumers to a website that requires them to make purchases, provide personal information, and/or fulfill other conditions in order to receive the gift card. Once the conditions are met, the consumer may never receive the gift card or may have spent more than the value of the gift card.
At Best Buy stores, customers will see signs posted on our gift card display racks and warnings on the credit card readers at the checkout counters that are automatically prompted when they purchase gift cards above a certain increment. The notice includes information around gift card scams that a customer must read and agree that they are aware of before finalizing their purchase.
We have also started to print information on the back of gift cards warning customers to never use a Best Buy Gift Card for payment outside of Best Buy. Additionally, employees undergo special training to help them spot customers who may be falling victim to a scam, and Best Buy has reduced the gift card purchase limits.
- Only use Best Buy Gift Cards at a Best Buy store or online at BestBuy.com. Best Buy Gift Cards cannot be used to pay bills, bail or taxes.
- Neither the IRS nor any other government entity will ever request payment over the phone, and they will NOT request payment in the form of gift cards
- Never share a gift card or PIN over the phone or online, other than when you’re shopping on the website of the company that issued the card, especially with someone you don’t know
- If someone calls you claiming a loved one of yours is in trouble, hang up and contact your loved one, or someone close to them, directly
- Do not purchase a gift card if it looks as if it’s been tampered with, or if the PIN is exposed
- Don’t respond to emails, text messages or online ads offering free gift cards unless you are expecting this communication from a company
- Make sure the website address and branding match up with the company referenced in the offer
- If you purchase a gift card online from someone who has previously owned the card, be cautious as the value on the gift card cannot be validated or protected by the gift card retailer
- If you’ve been a victim of gift card fraud, report it to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Crime Complaint Center
Tech support scams.
Well-known companies can be the target of tech-support scams, a type of crime where a criminal pretends to be affiliated with a reputable tech support company (like Best Buy, Geek Squad or Microsoft). While impersonating a seemingly trustworthy entity or company, fraudsters then contact an individual via a phone call, email, text message or pop-up window. The criminal will claim that the person’s computer is infected with malware or a virus and will manipulate them into giving away access to their device in order to resolve the fake technical issue.
When someone falls prey, the scammer has full access to all the information stored on the individual’s device and the opportunity to steal their identity, money, passwords, etc., which can cause significant damage.
Like most companies, we generally don’t make unsolicited calls to customers. If you receive a call unexpectedly from an individual claiming to be from Best Buy or Geek Squad, you should treat it with suspicion. To ensure you’re in contact with Best Buy directly, customers should call us at 1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289) or use a contact method found directly on BestBuy.com to ensure it is legitimate.
- Do NOT call any numbers or click on any links that pop up while browsing and that claim you have an issue with your device that needs to be resolved
- Do NOT give away any personal information such as credit card numbers, usernames and passwords
- If you believe there is an issue with your computer, contact a trusted computer repair specialist
- Trusted brands will never contact you asking you for personal information or payment related to a support issue unless you have previously engaged them. And, even then, we recommend that you hang up and contact the publicly available support line directly (don’t call a number given to you by the caller).
- Report the scam to your local law enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Crime Complaint Center
- If you suspect a scam regarding an offer from Best Buy or Geek Squad, please report it for investigation by calling us at 1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289)
Phishing, smishing, and vishing scams.
Phishing is a type of cybercrime that targets individuals by sending an email containing a malicious link or attachment. Phishers lure individuals into providing data such as personal information, banking and credit card details, and passwords. When someone falls prey to this type of scam, it can result in consequences like identity theft or financial loss.
Like a phishing scam, smishing and vishing attacks happen when someone receives a malicious text or phone call to carry out the attack. Remember:
- Beware of emails that have you “verify” personal information online. Most legitimate companies, including Best Buy, will never request personal information in this manner.
- Contact organizations only through trusted channels
- Scammers may attempt to create a feeling of panic — don’t rush to respond to or follow the instructions of suspicious emails, text messages or phone calls
- Don’t click on links or cut and paste links from questionable emails, text messages or websites
- Read the terms and conditions of offers — scams often require that consumers take inappropriate or unreasonable actions
- URL-checker software and other security applications can help protect against malicious links
- Report phishing emails through your email client’s reporting option (like Spam, Junk or Report Phishing) to help avoid seeing further messages from the sender
Note: A gift card offer may also be the subject of phishing, smishing and vishing messages. Look out for subject lines and messages that tell you to click on a link to claim your free gift card or that ask you to purchase gift cards on behalf of the message sender.