How to avoid becoming the victim of a scam

WITH the news that Gladstone residents are losing more than $8000 per month to overseas con artists, it's timely to look at how to avoid becoming a victim.

Scamwatch has a number of ways you can deal with this issue:

Be alert that scams exist: when dealing with uninvited contact from people or businesses - via phone, mail, email, in person or on a social networking site - always consider the possibility the approach may be a scam.

Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Know who you are dealing with: if you have met someone only online or are unsure of a business's legitimacy, take some time to do a bit more research.

Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails.

If unsure, verify the contact's identity through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.

Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.

Keep your personal details secure: keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place.

Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites.

Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.

Keep your mobile devices and computers secure: always use password protection, do not share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content.

Protect your WiFi network with a password and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.

Choose your passwords carefully: choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly.

A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

It should be difficult to guess and updated regularly.

Beware of any requests for your details or money: Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you do not know or trust.