COAL TOWNSHIP - The public is advised to be aware of a new scam involving home computers.

A reader reported to The News-Item he received a call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft representative. The "representative" told the computer owner another person had tried to hack his machine.

The scammer then asked the victim to allow him remote access to the computer to fix the problem. However, the scammer uses this access to steal personal information, such as social security, credit card and bank account numbers.

Coal Township Police Chief William Carpenter said the "Microsoft scam" is a new one to him, but not surprising.

"The better imagination someone has, the easier it is for them to create a scam," Carpenter said.

Carpenter said there is a very simple rule of thumb to abide by to avoid being scammed.

"If handing out the information makes you nervous, don't provide it," the chief said. "That goes for passwords, birth dates, social security numbers, anything of that nature."

Carpenter also said people should never give out personal information to someone who called them.

"Following those rules will help everyone avoid being scammed," Carpenter said.