When Robert Gill of Lehighton checked his email one recent morning, he found a message that advised him to immediately respond by sending his email address and password in order to avoid losing his account.

Gill, 73, called state police at Lehighton, who said they could do nothing about the scam.

Gill deleted the message, and called the TIMES NEWS to help spread the word that email scams are making the rounds, and are constructed more cleverly than ever.

The message sent to Gill's email address purported to be from his email provider, and asked that he respond with his name, his email address and password, and then send his password again.

"It really struck a chord. I could see where a lot of people could get caught," he said.

A similar message was received by a TIMES NEWS reporter. The message, from the "computer service help desk," said that a virus had infected the recipients computer, that her account was at risk, and that she must click on a provided link to authenticate her account.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation advises people who receive suspicious email messages to access the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx, and file a report.

The FBI does not send mass emails to private citizens about cyber scams. So if you receive an email that claims to be from the FBI director or other top official, it's probably a scam.

Do not respond to the message, and delete it.

The FBI offers these tips:

Ÿ Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.

Ÿ Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.

Ÿ Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files; the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.

Ÿ Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.

Ÿ Always compare the link in the email to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.

Ÿ Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Ÿ Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify that the email is genuine.

Ÿ If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency that requires your attention, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.

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