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How to Recognize a Hoax

  • Hoaxes are almost always sent by email.
  • They have no file attachments or references to a third party.
  • Most hoaxes contain warnings about a fictitious virus or a malicious software program and its devastating consequences.
  • Some hoaxes resort to people's sympathy and need of helping other persons. Other, just underline the possibility of money reward if the message is sent to other people a certain number of times: "Forward this message to get a free .... !" or "Pass this warning to everyone so that...". On the contrary, some hoaxes mention that misfortunes may happen if the message is not forwarded: e.g. Microsoft, Bill Gates, Disney hoaxes, etc.

    Note: There is less probable that someone will trace the path of every forwarded message on the Internet and keep a record of the number of the copies sent. It is just a mere farce.

  • Contain pseudo technical details describing a virus.
  • Include false information from well know or official entities such as FBI, software companies, banks, etc.
  • Hoax messages encourage or urge addressees to forward them to as many people as possible: "Send this to everyone you know".

    Note: No real company will send a warning message asking you to forward it to other people!

  • Hoaxes always sound real and credible, giving the impression to be written in a proper technical language. But with little research on Google, one can discover term confusions, misspellings, etc.
    Usually hoaxes want to delude by making appeal to people's credibility through associations: they associate their names and malpractice to reputable and trustworthy persons/companies which have already gained people' s confidence.

Click here to view examples of hoaxes


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