Awareness : Security Awareness Tips

Beware of Email Hoaxes

At any given moment, there are thousands of email hoaxes circulating on the Internet. Email hoaxes usually come in the form of chain letters containing false or misleading information. They play on the reader’s emotions, prompting them to engage in meaningless activity or worse, the compromise of personal information.

Examples of email hoaxes include:

  1. Prizes for taking surveys, dialing a certain phone number (#77), or forwarding emails to as many online users as possible.
  2. Fake virus alerts or fake security updates.
  3. Requests to sign email petitions or to donate funds to a “worthy cause” such as the recent tsunami disaster.
  4. Fictitious warnings or news releases about the government, companies, institutions, or upcoming events.
  5. Promises of unlimited financial gain from making a specific investment, or joining a “get-rich-quick” scheme.

Some individuals create email hoaxes just to see how far their message can get. Others have more sinister purposes such as identity theft, fraud, harvesting good email addresses for spammers or hackers; creating insensitivity to real future threats and damage to another person’s or organization’s reputation. If you receive what you suspect to be an email chain letter do not respond or forward to other users. Once you have confirmed the message is indeed a hoax delete it immediately.

Visit one of the following web sites which track internet hoaxes:

Posted April 11, 2005