Email Hoaxes

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Recognizing Hoaxes

With all of the computer viruses going around these days, a lot more people would like to be able to write them , but aren’t smart enough. For those people, there is the virus warning Hoax. A HOAX is an email message warning about a non-existent virus and asking the recipient to send the warning to everyone in their address book.

If you think about that, you soon realize that sending a message to everyone in your address book is usually the first thing an actual virus does. If the perpetrator of the HOAX can get you to do it, there is no need to write a virus — the basic end has been achieved, and YOU voluntarily did the work! That’s why they exist. How do you spot them?

Top Five Signs That a Message is a Hoax

The next time that you receive an alarming e-mail calling you to action, look for any of these telltale characteristics before even thinking about sending it along to anybody else.

URGENT: The e-mail will have a great sense of urgency! You’ll usually see a lot of exclamation points and capitalization. The subject line will typically be something like:

URGENT!!!!!!

WARNING!!!!!!

IMPORTANT!!!!!!

VIRUS ALERT!!!!!!

TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS:

There will always be a request that you share this “important” warning by forwarding the message to everybody in your e-mail address book or to as many people as you possibly can. This is a surefire sign that the message is a hoax.

THIS ISN’T A HOAX

The body of the e-mail will contain some form of corroboration, such as a pseudoquote from an executive of a major corporation or from a government agency official.

Sometimes the message will include a sincere-sounding premise. For example:

My neighbor, who works for Microsoft, just received this warning so I know it’s true. He asked me to pass this along to as many people as I can.

IT’S ALL BALONEY — DON’T BELIEVE IT FOR A SECOND!

Watch for e-mails containing a subtle form of self-corroboration. Statements such as “This is serious!” or “This is not a hoax!” can be deceiving. Just because somebody says it’s not a hoax doesn’t make it so.

DIRE CONSEQUENCES:

The e-mail text will predict dire consequence if you don’t act immediately. The message may inform you that the virus will destroy your hard drive, kill your houseplants, or cause green fuzzy things to grow in your refrigerator.

HISTORY:

Look for a lot of >>>> marks in the left margin. These marks indicate that people suckered by the hoax have forwarded the message countless times before it has reached you.

For more information, go to http://www.hoaxbusters.org/ That’s a Website devoted to Hoaxes that has some excellent information about them. I urge you to go there and see the whole story!

 

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