13 Investigates


Rise in phishing scams expected this holiday season

Computer keyboard
Posted at 2:23 PM, Nov 22, 2021

HENDERSON (KTNV) — A Henderson woman was the target of an elaborate hoax. As a savvy computer user she says, if you don't think it could happen to you, think again.


13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean has the red flags to watch for so you don't fall victim.

"I told my husband; you can say goodbye to all the money that's in our account. I think I really screwed up," says Sherry Archuleta.


She's troubled by a recent phone conversation. It all started when she got an email from Best Buy's Geek Squad.

She's used the computer service before and didn't think twice about calling the phone number in the email. Sherry spoke with a representative who directed her to this page.


"It looked totally like the page from Best Buy... A little box will pop up and you're going to type in the code that I'm going to give you," says Sherry.

Sherry says she entered a code as directed and was presented with a form to fill out.

"The form was generic. It basically just asked for my name; first, last name," says Sherry.


It was also asking for the name of Sherry's bank.

"I got a little nervous and I actually leaned over and I unplugged my computer. So everything shut down," says Sherry.

Sherry was feeling uneasy and wanted to know why Best Buy needed the name of her bank. That's when the representative tried to assure Sherry it was all legitimate by providing some of her personal information.


"He gave me my bank account, the last four of my bank account number and I hung up on him because that sent a chill through me," says Sherry.

"How do you think he had that information?" asks Tricia. "I don't know. That was the scary part," says Sherry.


"The gift card scams and phishing emails, this and that. They all pick up around this time of the year," says Rhonda Mettler with the Better Business Bureau.

She says the holidays are always a popular time for scammers to flood your inbox. Phishing scams will easily blend in with all the other genuine holiday offers.


So, it's important to look for three major red flags. Number one: Emails written with a sense of urgency.

"Anytime you see or get that feeling of 'Act now! Do it now! Now, now!' Then that's a problem," says Mettler.

The scammer's goal is to get you to react without thinking. So, beware of emails offering free gifts for a limited time.


Number two: Don't assume it's legit just because it's a business you know.

"They take advantage of that. The big names you're familiar with, you trust them. Maybe you've been there within the past couple days. Low and behold you're now getting an email from them," says Mettler.


Red flag number three: Emails requesting you to download an attachment or click on a link.

"Sometimes that's all you have to do and there's a Trojan or something in there. The next thing you know your computer is infected and your information has been stolen," says Mettler.

Never open an attachment, click a link or provide too much information on the phone.


"As a consumer you need to not make any hasty decisions. Say 'Hey, I'm not gonna fall to your pressures. Let me think about it.' While you're thinking about it, check them out," says Mettler.

Mettler says you can always verify a phone call or email by contacting the business yourself.

"Your best option is to go directly to the website. Not the one they provided. The company's actual website and call the company directly. Not any of the numbers or links that they're providing," says Mettler.


That's what Sherry did. She was so afraid, she looked up the number for herself and called Best Buy.

"I just felt that I had just totally screwed up," says Sherry. "Was there anything taken out of your account?" asks Tricia. "No," says Sherry.


The real Geek Squad ended up checking Sherry's computer and fortunately didn't find anything suspicious. Now she's just hoping others learn from her mistake.

"You probably should just be paying attention to every email and where it originates from," says Sherry.


“We’re happy Ms. Archuleta caught the scam before sharing her information. Unfortunately, criminals continue to target consumers with many different scams, some of which include posing as well-known brands like Best Buy or Geek Squad. If a customer receives an unexpected call or email, they should treat it with suspicion."

Best Buy says to help prevent a scam like this one, customers can always contact Best Buy at 1-888-BESTBUY if they need any support from Best Buy or Geek Squad.

If someone thinks they’ve been victimized in a similar scam, we encourage them to contact the local authorities immediately, as well as the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.


Best Buy offers some tips to help prevent viewers from falling victim to scams, we also have more resources on Best Buy.

-Limit sharing your personal information. Be thoughtful when you get an email or phone requests for your personal information, like a bank account or credit card number.

-If you’re pressured to act quickly, odds are it’s a scam.

-Don’t open email attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re from legitimate sources. If you’re uncertain, you can always call 1-888-BESTBUY to confirm.

-Beware of emails and texts that have you "verify" personal information online. Most legitimate companies will never request personal information in this manner, including Best Buy.

-If you receive a call or email asking for payment by gift card, know that it’s a scam. Report it to your local authorities and the Federal Trade Commission right away.

-Never provide your gift card number and pin to anyone you don’t know. Once those numbers are gone, so is your money.


The BBB says it's even more important than ever for everyone to be aware of phishing scams. These can come in the form of prize offers, threatened punishments, or even a text message.

Sometimes the sender relies on a victim’s curiosity to prompt a click or download of something dangerous. Other phishing formats may not have any links to click but rather a phone call to inquire about an account or subscription.

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