Seminar provides tips to avoid getting scammed

consumer security seminar
A seminary on how to avoid scams at the Michigan Attorney General's Office in Lansing. (Oct. 20, 2016)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Kim Lombard of Rockford was the target of what’s becoming a classic among the scamming crowd.

“I got an email that told me that I had a problem with my computer and that I had I needed to call Microsoft to get it repaired,” she said.

It was one of those times when it really pays to be a skeptic.

“I actually did call. You know, part of you wants to believe a large company is actually looking out for you. But I knew better,” Lombard said. “Why would I believe that Microsoft would, out of the millions of customers they have, choose me to help me out?”

Lombard was one of a number of state employees who showed up Thursday to an auditorium at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for a seminar on how to avoid being victim of cybercrimes.

From emails like the one Lombard received to phishing scams on social media, it seems like there’s always something new.

“It’s happening everywhere you are that you can expose some of your information. So whether that’s a strange text message asking you to log in to your bank account via this web app — it’s not from your bank, probably shouldn’t click on it,” Attorney General Press Secretary Andrea Bitely said.

Regardless of the scam, most follow the same method, and knowing those methods could save you a lot of trouble.

Beware of calls and emails that are urgent and must be kept secret. Question the believability of a request — the IRS doesn’t reach out to you on the phone or through emails. Never fall for a scam asking you send money or requesting personal information unless you initiated a transaction in the first place.

In other words, be a little more like Kim Lombard.

“I asked enough questions that they finally hung up,” she said.

It’s nearly impossible to list all of the scams in one article, but there’s very helpful website from the Federal Trade Commission that will help you sort through what to trust and what not to trust.

If you think you’re the victim of a scam, you can contact your local law enforcement and also file a complaint with the FTC.