Email Hoaxes – inQuo’s Tech Tip Tuesday Newsletter

inQuo Computer Repair in Salt Lake City UtahAnyone with an email address has probably received an email warning them of a new virus outbreak, gang activity if you flash your headlights, or a medical warning about possible contamination from chopped onions.  These emails warn you of dire consequences and incredible health hazards.  Most of these emails are probably hoaxes.

You can spot these hoax emails by some of the ways they are written.  If they ask you to forward them to as many people as you know, or the subject line includes phrases like WARNING!!!! or URGENT!!!!, they may be a hoax.  The body of the email may show many forwards, meaning you have to scroll down a long ways to actually read the email.  That can be a sign as well.

It is best to assume that these emails are false until they can be proved otherwise.  We have compiled a list of websites that can help disseminate between the truth and false claims.

  • Snopes (www.snopes.com) – Perhaps the most well known website that seeks to dispel rumors and hoaxes, Snopes is a good resource to track those suspicious emails that have been forwarded to you.
  • Hoaxbusters (www.hoaxbusters.org) – Although the address is similar to a site that used to be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, this site is not a government site.  It does have useful information about internet hoaxes though.
  • Scambusters (www.scambusters.org) – Another valuable site that has many recent posts, including information about Haiti Donation Scams.
  • Vmyths (www.vmyths.com) – An informative blog with good insights into internet hoaxes and myths.
A danger in forwarding emails is that anyone who has received that email before can also have their email address exposed.  Most people do not use the BCC (blind carbon copy) option when forwarding emails.

Some emails that you receive may sound like the truth, because the author has cited references to important sounding names or organizations.

Why do people do this?  Some people may write these types of emails to simply see how far they go.  Others may be writing them as a practical joke to friends, without realizing how far it will go.  There are some “news” websites that write satirical and untrue news stories for humor.  Sometimes, even those stories are picked up and rehashed in the form of hoax emails.  Some speculate that spammers, people who send millions of spam email messages, use the hoax email addresses as a way of harvesting email addresses

It is a good idea to check out the claims made by any of those kinds of emails before forwarding them on to everyone you know.  Use the sites above, or even just type the subject of the suspected email into your favorite search engine.

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