I love Hoaxes

Street smarts on Hoaxes

What is a Hoax?

Hoaxes are spread via post mail, email or on social sites like Facebook, claiming to be important and asking to be passed on to as many people as you can or for you to do something. If this makes you think of those chain letters that were very popular back in the early days, it is because it is the same thing only in digital form creating nothing more than extra e-junk and frustration for the people you send them to.

How do they work?

Tho Hoaxes have lots of similarities to viruses, they are not scripts or programs for the most part but some may contain hidden passengers that can harm your computer. A hoax works by sounding so convincing for you to believe it and pass it on. This means a hoax not only wastes your time by making you read it, it also tries to manipulate you and make you do something against your will – spread the hoax and waste other people’s time as well! Their main reasoning is to deceive and in some cases cause harm to others. Hoaxes are one of the simplest and common forms of fraud.

While most hoaxes are harmless and time wasters, others can mask viruses and scams. Hoaxes can couple a chain letter or chain post with a virus that can in turn infect your computer and those of your recipients should you forward it or can be used to gain access to your online accounts

How to identify them?

It’s easy to tell if it’s a hoax, they will:

  • promise it is not a hoax.
  • ask you to forward it to as many people as you can.
  • tell you that something good will happen once you forward it.
  • tell you that something bad will happen if you don’t forward it.

A common hoax is one that promise a certain amount of money will be donated for each time it is passed on. If you get one of these emails; stop reading, delete it and put an end to it; you may be tempted to send it along but DON’T!

If you get an email from a company or organization, check their site and/or call their customer service to get more info.

Hoaxes usually carry some tell-tale signs when done in email form… Showing >>>> next to each line or a subject line showing many forwards (FWD: fwd: fwd: FWD: fwd).

Hoaxes use well-known organizations or important topics to make you believe it’s message but no one stops to wonder why it is being forwarded by a friend who got it from a friend and so on. Companies will not send emails to be forwarded but will send emails directly to their destinations nor will they pay per forward or like and share on social site like Facebook.

There are many different ways to check out a potential hoax:

  • Google the address listed (it may not even exist)
  • Check the company with the Better Business Bureau
  • Do research on hoaxes in your area through news stations, local newspapers and through the internet.
  • Government websites will list the latest hoaxes
  • Check with reliable websites online about the potential hoax

Always be cautious about URLs (website links) or email addresses as these may direct you to malicious sites or scams. Never click on links in emails; if you get an email from an organization to visit their site, type in the url instead.

If the letter, email or post asks you to allow, transmit or delete sensitive data it is likely fraudulent and should be avoided. If you get a hoax, kill it in its tracks, they are only functional if they are shared. If there is a company tied to the hoax, report it to the company’s customer service or visit their site for a contact us page and report it there.

Snopes is a good source to verify hoaxes.

Take this short Hoax Test

  1. What makes up a hoax?
    1. Contains false information
    2. Propagates unfounded rumors or fears
    3. Ask you to forward to friends
    4. Describe unlikely rewards or repercussions
    5. All of the above
  2. Which of these is a common email hoax?
    1. A forwarded joke
    2. A company newsletter you signed up for
    3. An Advertisement
    4. An email paying you $1.00 for every person you forward it to
    5. All of the above
  3. If you suspect what you are reading is a hoax, you should
    1. Forward the email, letter or post to friends
    2. Delete the email or post or trash the letter and report it to the appropriate people
    3. Assume all information is verified and true
    4. Save the message or letter
    5. All of the above
  4. What should you do if you receive an email or post hoax with an attachment
    1. Only open the attachment if it is from a trusted source and you have verified it is safe
    2. Always open the attachment
    3. Always forward the email or post to your family and friends
    4. All of the above


  1. Eall of the above
  2. DAn email paying you $1.00 for every person you forward it to
  3. BDelete the email or post or trash the letter and report it to the appropriate people
  4. AOnly open the attachment if it is from a trusted source and you have verified it is safe

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