Here are some easy ways to keep  Email hoaxes out of your Inbox

Will Vista help keep your computer well?

      "Keep Email Hoaxes
        Out of Your Inbox"

Email hoaxes are more than mere annoyances. Many are created and circulated for pure mischief and sensationalism, but the most dangerous are virus hoaxes that could lead some users to routinely ignore all virus warning messages, leaving them vulnerable to a genuine, destructive virus.

You may have received a sensational email like the "Starbucks refused free product to G.I.s serving in Iraq ..." message. Did you know that almost every alarming email like that is a hoax?

But, how can you tell and what can you do about it? In particular, is there a way for you to keep hoaxes out of your Inbox? Yes there is, and here's how to go about it -

There is usually plenty of evidence to help you decide when
statements in an email are likely to be hoaxes.
   Look first for what is called internal evidence and compare it with any available external evidence. (It's easier than it sounds.) If the evidence proves the information to be false, use it to alert the sender and request that they stop sending those email hoaxes to your Inbox.

Internal Evidence is found within the email itself. You will find up to five clues there.
First clue: who sent the email? Usually, it will be someone who routinely sends
you emails. So start by identifying the sender. If you know them, you can let them know that the message was a hoax.
Second clue: this message has been forwarded many times. The Subject line will
usually start with: "Fw: Starbucks refused ... " or some similar teaser. You may
see several previous "Fw: ... " lines inside the text of the email, as well.
Third clue: the use of unusually large, colored, or mixed fonts, exhorting you to
some quick action. (The more frantic the fonts, the more suspicious the
message.)
Fourth clue: has this same email been sent to a long list of people? Read the
"To:" line; how many others are named? Don't recognize many of them? Aha!
Fifth, and surest, clue: the insistent call to forward this letter to everyone you
know.  Right now!

External Evidence is any evidence gathered from outside of the actual document. To get to the truth, compare the internal evidence with any external evidence you can find.

Do this to find external evidence -

Once you suspect a hoax, do a web search on the "subject" line. Quote the whole line in the search box; if it's a known hoax you will get plenty of hits. Your search engine will point you to several "hoax-busting" websites for information about email hoaxes
using those exact words.

If your search engine comes up empty then try again, using some of the other key words in the hoax message instead.

You can also search directly at any or, even better, all of these outstanding sites:

http://www.scambusters.org/  
http://www.snopes.com/
http://hoaxbusters.org/

Do this a couple of times and you'll be able to judge the internal evidence almost at a glance and go straight to searching for external evidence for positive proof.

Now you know how to spot fake warnings. But how do you actually keep email hoaxes out of your Inbox? Just send them right back, with a twist. Wait and see, it works!

Copy every single scrap of information from a hoax-busting site, preferably several sites if you have the time. Overwhelm the sender with proof that they may have acted rashly.

Do that by pasting all the evidence you've gathered to the original hoax email, using the "Reply" function.

      IMPORTANT: you are obligated to credit the source for each quote. Besides,
      a quote without attribution could make you appear untrustworthy, yourself.

Refrain from commenting; simply return their email with the addition of your thorough rebuttal from several verified sources. After a couple of your "replies", your pals will stop forwarding unfounded messages, at least to you.

This works because nobody, even persistent friends, likes to look foolish, especially when leaving such a public paper trail. Keep in mind that your friends are merely victims of the hoaxes, too. So here you have a chance to help rid them of their bad habits while achieving your goal: to keep email hoaxes out of your Inbox. All this, without a single reproving or offending word.

Be especially alert for virus hoaxes like urgent virus warning emails. You've seen them: predictions of impending doom due to some nasty sounding virus lurking inside your very own computer. Many of these warnings will seem authentic.

Note, though, that you are always urged to take some drastic action, usually to delete this "virus", which often turns out to be a necessary file with an unfortunate name.

Don't delete that "virus" yet. Now you know better and you know exactly what to do.

Right... start by looking up the "virus" at the McAfee Virus Host Listing web page. Tell your email friends about this article and refer them to the Virus Hoax page on the
Firewalls and Virus Protection website.

Help them keep email hoaxes out of their inboxes and they won't have any hoaxes to forward to your email inbox.
                                   
                                                                               ... Richard Rossbauer

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Richard started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at http://www.firewalls-and-virus-protection.com
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