Explaining eMail hoaxes for beginners

What Is An Internet or Email Hoax?

Mixed in with all your junk mail and spam that fills your Internet e-mail box are dire warnings about devastating new viruses, Trojans that will make your computer melt, and software that can steal the computer right off your desk. Added to that In addition to those are messages about free money, lost or kidnapped children, and other frightening messages designed to grab you and get you to forward the message to everyone you know. Most of these messages are hoaxes or chain letters. While email hoaxes cannot actually cause problems on your system like a virus or Trojan, they are still time consuming and annoying. eMail hoaxes and chain-letters also clog email systems and cause problems for email administrators. Below are some samples of some of these warnings, offers, Learn To Understand Internet Hoaxesand pleas for help that are filling mailboxes, clogging servers, and do not have any basis in fact.

What To Do When You Receive An 'Urgent' Message

Before forwarding that dire warning about cancer from bottled water, secret cookie recipes, or promises of Microsoft sending you money, take a moment and ask yourself, is this true? Could it be a hoax? Remember, just because you see it on your computer screen does not make it true.

Warning Signs That Something In Your Inbox May Not Be True

Watch for these tip-off's that the newest get-rich scheme, dire warning or 'incredible' photo may not be real:

"Send this to everybody in your address book!"
This is almost a sure-fire way to know this is a hoax
Some official 'says so'
It's on Microsoft's webpage! or CNN just posted it! yet, no matter how hard you search, you just can't find it
Lot's of technical facts and data
Is it full of technical gibberish made to make it appear plausible?
You must help! You must do something!
Does the message implore you to do something even if all you can do is forward it to everybody? Will someone die if you don't? Will a little child be lost forever if you don't? Will you not get rich if you don't?

What If You're Still Not Sure?

Email hoaxes and scams are designed to fool you, so it may be difficult to know for sure if the message is true or not. If you still aren't sure there are two things you can do:

  • Don't do anything! Just delete it. Even if it was true, there will be plenty of other people forwarding it to everybody they know.
  • Research it and check it out yourself! www.snopes.com is an excellent resource for checking hoaxes and chain letters.

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