[thelist] TIP: How to spot an email hoax

Madhu Menon madhum at trisoft.net
Sat Feb 17 05:55:33 CST 2001

I can't recall where I copied this from a long time ago, but it's what I
sent to all my newbie relatives when they ask me to "get a free phone from
Nokia" or tell me, "Microsoft will pay you $x for every person you forward
this to", etc.


<tip type="Spotting an email hoax" author="Madhu Menon">

Want to spot a hoax? Here's How: 

* Note whether the text was actually written by the person who sent it to
you. If not, be skeptical. 

* Look for the telltale phrase, 'Forward this to everyone you know.' 

* Look for statements like 'This is not a hoax' or 'This is not an urban
legend.' They usually mean the opposite of what they say. 

* Look for overly emphatic language, the frequent use of UPPERCASE LETTERS
and multiple exclamation points!!!!!!! 

* If the message seems geared more to persuade than to inform, be
suspicious. Hoaxers are out to push emotional buttons.

* If the message purports to give you extremely important information that
you've never heard of before or seen elsewhere in legitimate sources, be

* Read carefully and think critically about what the message says, looking
for logical inconsistencies, violations of common sense and obviously false

* Look for subtle or not-so-subtle jokes, indications that the author is
pulling your leg. 

* Check for references to outside sources. Hoaxes will not typically name
any, nor link to Websites with corroborating information. 

* Check to see if the message has been debunked by Websites that cover
Internet hoaxes such as  http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/vinfodb.html or

More tips: 

* Virtually any chain email you receive (i.e., any message forwarded
multiple times) is more likely to be false than true. Be skeptical. 

* Hoaxers usually try every means available to make their lies believable --
e.g., mimicking a journalistic style, attributing the text to a 'legitimate'
source, etc.

* Be especially wary of health-related rumors. Most importantly, never act
on such rumors without first verifying their accuracy with your doctor or
other reliable source. 




<<<   *   >>>
Madhu Menon
Head - User Experience Group
Trisoft Systems Pvt. Ltd.  
Global Software Services

Work: http://www.trisoft.net
Personal: http://madman.weblogs.com 

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