Verifying the Spectacular Claims in Unsolicited Emails
We all know that unsolicited emails often contain false information. Some may be harmless, but many others contain worms and viruses or try to solicit personal information to steal your identity. The generally recommended practice is to delete emails from anyone you don’t know and to even be cautious with items received (particularly forwarded emails) from known senders. If you open an item, in a moment of weakness, and find the information too valuable to keep to yourself, consider verifying the information before you add to the problem by forwarding the message along to your friends.
One of the easiest ways to identify bogus claims in emails is to use a myth debunking site. I personally use Snopes.com. There, you can enter a portion of the email text, or the subject line, and get a detailed report of the true/false status of the claims. So if that YouTube video of cell phones popping corn is too cool not to forward, a quick query of “cellphone popcorn” on Snopes will instantly tell you that it’s a fake, actually created as an advertisement for a Bluetooth headset manufacturer. You’ll save yourself the time of forwarding the message and the ridicule when half your friends write back that a) that video is so last year and b) everyone already knows it’s fake.
After deleting bogus emails that have come from friends or family, I usually write them back to remind them not to read unsolicited messages and inform them of the status of the claim. It has gotten to the point where a few friends check with me first before sending a message out to a group. Being able to find this information for yourself will do a lot more than just keep you in the know. It will help to protect your computer and your identity from the malicious intent hidden within many of these messages.
Have you been duped by a bogus email claim?
Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 6:41 am