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E-Mail Forwards: How to Separate Fact From Fiction

It's an all-too-common occurrence these days: you receive a hilarious video or an inspirational e-mail forward from a friend-of-a-friend, and you just can't resist passing it on to everyone in your address book. Then there are those forwards that are a bit less innocent: they promise you good luck if you pass them on to 15 people, or they warn about a new predator in town, or a quick way to make a few bucks.

e-mail forwarding

Concerned about spreading Internet rumors to your friends and family? Think before you click by using the Web sites below.

"THIS IS NOT A JOKE!" they often begin with. "WARN YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY" and "DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE" they say. And just what if it IS real, and you don't tell your friends and family? And so on these viral e-mails go, to perhaps hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people.

Perhaps you have received some of these common e-mail forwards from your friends or family:

  • LSD and Strychnine on Telephones: A new form of gang initiation is to go find as many pay phones as possible and put a mixture of LSD and Strychnine onto the buttons. This mixture is deadly to the human touch, and apparently, this has killed some people on the east coast.

  • Help a Little Girl With Cancer: PLEASE pass this mail on to everybody you know. It is the request of little girl who will soon leave this world, as she has been a victim of the terrible disease called CANCER. Thank you for your effort, this isn't a chain letter, but a choice for all of us to save a little girl that's dying of a serious and fatal form of cancer.

  • Bath and Body Works: We are trying a new advertising campaign through the power of YOU, the consumer. In order for this to work, you need to send this e-mail to 13 people. Our computer tracking system will keep count of how many people you send it to, and to compensate you for your hard work, we are going to send you a $50 gift certificate redeemable in any store nationwide.

  • Bananas From Costa Rica: Several shipments of bananas from Costa Rica have been infected with necrotizing fascitis, otherwise known as flesh-eating bacteria. It is advised not to purchase bananas for the next three weeks as this is the period of time for which bananas that have been shipped to the US with the possibility of carrying this disease.

e-mail forwarding

It only takes one person, and a matter of seconds, to spread a phony e-mail scam across the country.

  • Glade Plug-Ins: This is one of those e-mails that if you don't send it, rest assured someone on your list will suffer for not reading it. The original message was written by a lady whose brother and wife learned a hard lesson this past week. Their house burnt down, nothing left but ashes. The cause? The Glade Plug-In air freshener in the bathroom. Don't buy Glade Plug-In air fresheners. They pose a great fire hazard.

What do all of these e-mail forwards have in common? They're all hoaxes. But not every e-mail forward is. Fortunately, you can find out relatively quickly if there is any truth to the messages in your Inbox before you decide to pass them on.

How to Find Out if Your E-Mail Forwards are Legit

The next time you receive a forward asking you to pass it on -- OR ELSE! -- search for it at these scambuster Web sites. They'll tell you whether they're real or not, and it will only take a few seconds of your time.

  • Urban legends reference pages that attempt to give accurate information about rumors and urban legends on a variety of topics.

  • An alphabetical list of Internet hoaxes, scams and chain letters.

  • Current Netlore: A good source to find Internet hoaxes, e-mail rumors and urban legends.

  • Allows you to check out rumors, inspirational stories, virus warnings, humorous tales, pleas for help, urban legends, prayer requests and calls to action to see if they are truth or fiction.

  • E-mail Junkyard: A compilation of hundreds of chain letters and e-mail forwards, including a section that traces their authenticity.

Recommended Reading

The World's #1 Internet Threat May Be Robbing Your Identity Right Now

Don't Get Caught by Phishing Scams on the Internet!

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