In This Issue
Welcome to our Newsletter
How To Spot An E-Mail Hoax.
Have you ever got an email that claims, you
have won some lottery or free air tickets
although you can't recall entering any such
contest? Or have you received an email
announcing some very important news that you
wonder why you haven't ever heard of before?
If the answer is yes, then you have been a
victim of email hoax. Read on to know how to
check email hoax and stop wasting time
reading and forwarding them.
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How To Spot An E-Mail
Types of Email Hoaxes
Knowing the types of hoax emails is
the first step towards dealing with
them. Email hoaxes are usually of
the following categories:
- Mails that appeal to help
someone in trouble like missing
child hoaxes or charity hoaxes.
- False virus alerts or bogus
- Email Chain Letters.
- Emails that promise free
gifts or cash rewards on
- Emails that make petitions
How to check email hoax
Email hoaxes have a few
peculiarities which expose them and
give them away. Checking for these
peculiarities will help one identify
- A hoaxer wants his message
to spread across as many
recipients possible. Phrases
like Forward this to everyone
you know or Forward this email
to all the people in your
address book are very commonly
used lines in email hoaxes. Some
emails might also specify a
certain number of people that it
should be forwarded so that you
could win a prize or gain a
- Note the language of the
mail. Hoax emails typically use
'over the top' style of writing.
Words like Urgent, Danger, Hurry
are typical of email hoaxes. For
greater effect, these words are
written in upper case. There are
certain hoax emails that appeal
to help dying children or people
hit by some calamity. Such
emails use language, dripping
with emotion. Be skeptical and
use your own judgment before
forwarding such emails.
- Hoax emails try to sound
authentic by claiming to be
backed by some government
organization or big corporate
entity. If that is the case then
look for some sign of genuine
involvement of such an
organization or entity. Try to
search in for any way you could
contact those organizations. If
not, it's a hoax email that you
- Email hoaxes do not provide
verifiable evidence or link to
another website related to the
content of the mail. For
example, if the mail seems to be
an alert for some virus, look
out for a link of some other
site that corroborates the
information. Also look for a
signature of the sender in the
email. If there is no reference
of the person or organization
who sent the mail, it's time to
reconsider the veracity of the
- Note whether the text you've
received was actually written by
the person who sent it. Did
anyone sign their name to it? If
not, be skeptical.
- Look for the telltale
phrase, 'Forward this to
everyone you know!' The more
urgent the plea, the more
suspect the message.
- Look for statements like
'This is NOT a hoax' or 'This is
NOT an urban legend.' They
typically mean the opposite of
what they say.
- Watch for overly emphatic
language, as well as frequent
use of UPPERCASE LETTERS and
- If the text seems aimed more
at persuading than informing the
reader, be suspicious. Like
propagandists, hoaxers are more
interested in pushing people's
emotional buttons than
- If the message purports to
impart extremely important
information that you've never
heard of before or read
elsewhere in legitimate venues,
be very suspicious.
- Read carefully and think
critically about what the
message says, looking for
violations of common sense and
blatantly false claims.
- Look for subtle or
not-so-subtle jokes —
indications that the author is
pulling your leg.
- Check for references to
outside sources of information.
Hoaxes don't typically cite
verifiable evidence, nor link to
Websites with corroborating
- Check to see if the message
has been debunked by Websites
that debunk urban legends and
Internet hoaxes (see below).
- Research any factual claims
in the text to see if there is
published evidence to support
them. If you find none, odds are
you've been the recipient of an
- Virtually any email chain
letter you receive (i.e., any
message forwarded multiple times
before it got to you) is more
likely to be false than true.
You should automatically be
skeptical of chain letters.
- Hoaxers usually try every
means available to make their
lies believable -- e.g.,
mimicking a journalistic style,
attributing the text to a
'legitimate' source, or implying
that powerful corporate or
government interests have tried
to keep the information from
- Be especially wary of
health-related rumors. Most
importantly, never act on
'medical information' forwarded
from unknown sources without
first verifying its accuracy
with a doctor or other reliable
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