2 More Former Employees Claim Geek Squad Stole Customers' Personal Files

Two more individuals identifying themselves as former Geek Squad employees have stepped forward with allegations about the repair company’s employees unauthorized copying of personal information from customer’s hard-drives.

I just want you to know that I applaud your efforts. I used to work at Best Buy, for the switch from just being techs to branding as Geek Squad. At stored #xxx in Chattanooga TN. (xxx) xxx-xxxx ext xxxx (for the tech bench).

I had the misfortune of enabling the dumping of these files, through a means that you would not have been able to record. For a lot of the stuff we did, we used a WinPE and Knoppix disc to diagnose and fix most issues. The knoppix disc also loaded up a SSH server to which would then be connected to, to download the “interesting” files.

I also know we had to alert the authorities to a couple of machines because of the content that was found.

FBI said to keep up the good work (I guess, because we did what they couldn’t)… We were also sued a couple of times, for other “reasons”.

The machines of interest were kept in the back near the ‘war room,’ and was a common spectacle for employees to come back there and see it.

-Former GS agent

I used to work at the geek squad here in rockford, il.
They used to do the music thing all the time. Everything we played was taken off someone’s machine somewhere.
Same with images, video, movies. One guy even had someone’s home-made porn on his jumpdrive. It was almost sick

-S

We really have a hard time believing that the guy we caught was an isolated incident, or that higherups had never heard of it happening before.

Given the time (one guy said he had worked there during the transition from when Geek Squad became part of Best Buy), depth (if your employees are interfacing with FBI agents, that has to trickle up at some point), and breadth (note the reference again to a common “war room” where the stolen files became backroom spectacle).

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  1. banned says:

    I still fail to see the big deal here, they are taking pictures and porn, they’re not trying to steal your identity. If they weren’t at work stealing your porn, they’d be at home, downloading it from your computer. Anybody out there is more than welcome to copy any of my photos or porn that I keep on my hard drive. If you’re afraid of this, then cancel your internet connections because I guarantee numerous hackers have already seen all that crap if you use windows.

  2. Ausoleil says:

    The big deal here is that is not a far leap to see certain GS agents taking personal financial information that could be used for identity theft.

  3. dbeahn says:

    @rocnrule: The big deal is that in addition to internet porn, they’re also looking for (hoping for, really) amature pics of the computer’s owner.

  4. dbeahn says:

    [www.channelregister.co.uk]


    [www.theregister.co.uk]

    Front page of The Reg – not bad at all.

  5. @dbeahn: so? IF people don’t encrypt, leave them on the drive before taking it in, or something similar, they should be aware that data is transitive: it flows thru the path of least resistance.

    If you were worried, you would pay more to have someone come to your house, and work on your machine while you sat there and watched them. Or you would hire someone to remove all your porn, then take it in for GS to look at it.

    I did this last week for someone sending a laptop back. He asked me to help plug the laptop disk into another machine of his to pull some files. I didn’t ask (but I knew he wanted his resume as he is job looking). He said when he was done “I’m not ready to send my porn to the H-P people. Maybe next time.”

  6. dbeahn says:

    @Moonshine Mike: If morons reply to a comment that has nothing to do with their “reply” then that person should be aware they’re a moron :)

  7. dbeahn says:

    @Moonshine Mike: Or I’m a moron. I see how you might be trying to relate to what I said.

    It’s like this – people are aware that windows are transparent, but it’s still against the law to invade privacy by being a peeping tom.

    It’s an invasion of privacy to go looking through files that are unrelated to the task you are asked to perform.

    Let’s say you hire a contractor to remodel your bathroom. As a consumer, you’re aware that building materials can be shaped in any number of ways, but you don’t expect the contractor to install a hidden camera without your knowledge – cause that isn’t what you’re paying him to do.

    But the argument you make (which is if you don’t protect yourself then tough) would mean that if you don’t sweep your home for hidden recording devices every day, then it’s your own fault if you end up on candid camera, so to speak.

  8. appleface says:

    People should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Regardless of whether they are bringing their computer somewhere or having in home service. Just because someone can do something, does not mean they should. That being said, what is happening with Geek Squad is theft. People are paying Geek Squad employees to steal from them. Morality issues aside that doesn’t seem right.

  9. Xerloq says:

    @Moonshine Mike:
    Do you really believe that most people who go to Geek Squad understand anything about computers?

  10. Xerloq says:

    @dbeahn:
    Your analogy would be better if the contractors were going through your filing cabinets, and not installing hidden cameras.

    The point is people aren’t aware. Most people don’t know where to find the right information – that’s why they go to the Geek Squad.

    If you asked the contractor in your analogy “Do you install hidden cameras?” I’m sure he’d say no, then go right ahead and do it anyway.

  11. dbeahn says:

    @Xerloq: The analogy holds, because the contractor is invading your privacy by doing something in his field that you didn’t pay him to do.

  12. Xerloq says:

    @dbeahn:
    I’m comparing the contractor to Geek Squad. Geek Squad is essentially going through files that already exist, and not installing monitoring devices like the contractor (as far as we know). Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great analogy as both are invasions of privacy. I’m just trying to help you build a better argument. =)

  13. dbeahn says:

    @Xerloq: Oh, if we’re comparing the contractor to the geek squad, then it’s a poor analogy. You see, the contractor is *competent*….

  14. TomK says:

    On one hand, if you are dumb enough to enter a best buy store, you get what you deserve.

    On the other, this really ought to be illegal. Or at least CEO gets fired.

    Me, I keep a 4.7 gig encrypted partition on my mac, and have the other 40 TB of porn on a hard drive hooked up to my encrypted wireless network. So I am safe.

  15. miburo says:

    CEO gets fired? How exactly do you prevent people from doing this?

    I used to work as a tech at a local computer shop. I never copied anything off the drive but have deleted spyware folders which held pornography (which a lot of porn sites have). I could say atleast 60% of spyware on computers got there from one porn site or another whether the person intentionally got there or not.

    If you really know how to really clean a computer, not just run adaware or spybot programs. There is no way you will not come across some of theses files. And if you come across them, then how do you prevent a person from seeing or copying?

    I’m not saying its right because its not. But there is no way to put the company at fault.

  16. Thrust says:

    @rocnrule: Who says they aren’t stealing identites? Thats the kind of thing they will keep to themselves, not dump into the war room, but with thousands of identity-theft cases every month this is a very possible source for some of it.


    The VERY simple matter here has nothing to do with porn, or music. This is theft. If someone broke into your house and stole something, you’d be pissed. Well the same goes with data. My home PC is loaded with games, homework from my college courses, old pictures I had done up years ago, my family’s addresses and phone numbers, three years worth of email, and much more. Anybody steals anything I just listed, it is mine and they have no gods damned right to it.

    Ask artists how they feel when people copy their work, would your family like their phone numbers handed out to strangers, or how about someone’s WoW account being jacked? Now what about the porn? Some geeksquad thief dumps a stolen image of your daughter/girlfriend/wife/sister onto their server. Next thing you know her face is on a couple dozen cheap pornscam sites. Some fat webmaster is making a fortune off her body and she doesn’t even get royalties since it’s a stolen image.

    Is this theft not a big deal?

  17. swphreak says:

    I’m pretty sure if Geek Squad was sued for privacy reasons, they’d have a good chance of losing. Stealing data off customer hard drives hardly seem legal. People are paying to have their computer fixed, not snooped around.

  18. banned says:

    @Thrust:
    Theft, from Webster’s dictionary; ” the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property”
    Maybe this is wrong, and maybe it is criminal, but it is not theft. Theft it taking the pics and deleting them, this is copying. If somebody broke in my house and stole, yeah I’d be pissed, but if I leave my door unlocked and computer on, and somebody comes in and sees and/or copies my pics, then they did not break any law, at least in Canada. If they take that pic and publicize it, they are then breaking the law. If they steal your identity, they are breaking the law. For me to copy music is technically against the law, though I’ve never seen it enforced. Sure they should not be doing this, but again, I fail to see the big deal.

  19. Thrust says:

    @rocnrule: That dictionary you use may not state this as theft, but the law does.

  20. G.Quagmire says:

    So the RIAA should be going after Geek Squad, yes? Sounds like an open-and-shut case to me.

  21. mrjimbo19 says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that while people on this site may be well informed there are a multitude of consumers who frankly know nothing about best buy’s deeds involving geek squad. If you really want to fix the issue when it comes to tech work you should require they hand every customer a document that states they are under investigation for invading consumers privacy. That just allows people to see what is going on and in turn warn them away to another place.


    To imply most people should be proactive in data backup and recovery is a good thought but how many times have friends called you asking to help save photos because they have not backed up in a month? People just don’t think a system crash will hit them and in turn don’t plan out.

  22. nequam says:

    “if I leave my door unlocked and computer on, and somebody comes in and sees and/or copies my pics, then they did not break any law, at least in Canada.”


    It’s called trespassing if nothing else.

  23. jamesdenver says:

    We have memory cards that hold 2GB. Why on earth do people still keep files on their PCs? I see home computers as “dummy terminals”. All of my important content is kept on my FTP site and backuped up on memory cards.

    Should my computer break or become crippled with viruses I just spend an evening reinstalling Windows, doing updates, and restoring my basic preferences.

    Certainly not fun, but I don’t need to worry about losing my content, or a stranger acessing my porn.

    james [www.futuregringo.co]

  24. alk509 says:

    @rocnrule:

    if I leave my door unlocked and computer on, and somebody comes in and sees and/or copies my pics, then they did not break any law, at least in Canada.

    If you think about that for a second, I’m sure you’ll see it can’t be true.

  25. goodkitty says:

    This is not a Geek Squad problem, this is a human problem. Just like the voyeuristic TSA people who target the hotties for searches, the voyeuristic camera operators of “public security” cams, the people who fish for credit card receipts in the dumpster, anyone who buys “Girls Gone Wild” dvds, and of course your old-fashioned peeping toms, RIAA hack squads, and most script kiddies. Why single out GS when everyone else in the world, everywhere, is doing it? The lesson to take home is to never trust anyone to do the right thing. At that point, “BAM,” all your problems are solved.

  26. roamer1 says:

    Chattanooga…why does that not surprise me any? I guess since it’s rather hard to get porn (especially gay porn!) there that people will get it any way they can… :p

  27. banned says:

    @alk509:
    It is completely true. I took a course in college in computer ethics and that was the analogy they used, citing our criminal code. My point is this is a moral issue, not a legal one. Unlike murder, we all don’t agree this is wrong, regardless of the law.

  28. Thrust says:

    @mrjimbo19: I Likes Your Idea!

  29. dbeahn says:

    @rocnrule: So you’re telling me that Canada doesn’t have any laws against trespassing? I find that hard to believe. So I can walk into your house whenever I want, so long as the door is open, and you aren’t allowed to tell me to leave? I doubt it.

  30. dwarf74 says:

    It is for these, and many more reasons, that I use TrueCrypt. Seriously, folks – it’s free, relatively secure, and extremely easy. It’s where I put most anything I wouldn’t want someone else to see.

  31. Thrust says:

    @dbeahn: I’m thinking he overlooked trespassing, but it is not a break & enter if the door was unlocked. However, up here trespass without B&E is still a hefty crime if it involves entering a house. Hopping a fence into a yard, not as much so.

  32. consumer_999 says:

    I continue to be amazed at any “I don’t see what’s the big deal” type of posts. Why do you frequent a site like consumerist if you’re completely disinterested in (or oblivious about) protecting your rights?

    Do try to realize, this isn’t about one person taking someone’s porn. It’s about any of them taking any liberties with another’s property. They’re paid to do a job. They are supposed to do that and nothing more. Just like a plumber shouldn’t go around looking through your drawers and helping himself to some of your books as he leaves, or the detail guys at the carwash have no right to look through your glove compartment and take the spare change you have, when these guys do this stuff, they are at the least sleazy and dishonest and deserve firing, but also should have charges filed against them (although a broken jaw might suffice).

    Notice the CEO didn’t step up and say, “so, what’s the big deal!?” Why? Because he does see the big deal.

  33. nequam says:

    @consumer_999: “the detail guys at the carwash have no right to look through your glove compartment and take the spare change you have”

    That, in my opinion, is the best analogy so far among the comments.

  34. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @rocnrule: I comes to your home to fix your cable and while I’m there I be looking through your papers and things. If I see stuff I like, I be copying it. No big deal, right?

  35. Geekybiker says:

    Im concerned with the privacy issue of course, but this is a criminal matter. They are making authorized copies of files. Music files can be prosecuted by the RIAA, peronsal file I believe that you could pursue copyright infringement on them. Either way its more than just a peeping tom. Its an actionable matter.

  36. banned says:

    @dbeahn:
    That’s exactly what I am telling you. In order to be arrested for tresspassing, I must first issue you a tresspass notice and if after that, you come in, then you can be arrested, however even then, its a small fine, like speeding. I do not agree with the intent of taking porn, but the act can be beneficial. Like hackers who expose holes in computers only to report them.
    My gist is if you don’t want people in your house, the onus is on you to lock your door!
    By contrast, your government(not mine!) can come into your home(not mine!) anytime, when your not home, without a warrant, and take anything they want including a copy of your hard drive, and never tell you they were there, but when a company steals your porn, there’s suddenly outrage!?

  37. CharlesJBarry says:

    If you think this type of behavior is isolated to just Geek Squad, then you all need a reality check. I’ve worked in IT for a number of years, a few of them at a small repair shop in a medium sized Canadian city, and I can tell you that this happens at just about any repair shop regardless of size. I knew techs at every shop that took files from customer’s computers for their own use. I’m not saying it was right, because it wasn’t, but it happens everywhere so it isn’t just a Geek Squad problem.

  38. exDCI says:

    Well, nothing new with that. Being a former employee/supervisor of GS this is all fairly common knowledge. Granted it doesn’t happen in all stores, but most stores have at least one to two employee’s who love doing so.

    As everyone has already identified all the obvious points, let’s delve into what this could actually accomplish.

    As was stated even with this evidence the only result gained would be the agent getting fired. BBY is a large enough company to happily get rid of an employee whether they are brand new, or a 3 year veteran. In my experiences many store managers and even district management were always more than eager to see what ‘that hot chick in the white shirt’ brought in. Often times even taking home copies for themselves.

    If you want results out of this, target the big fish. Show the world what kind of company it is. Not show us what kind of people they hire. No one has a perfect hiring process.