Friday, November 21, 2008

Readers Beware

Today I'm compelled to make a public service announcement.

Folks, if you just received an email forwarded by a million people, chances are that it: A) is false and B) contains a virus/spybot/trojan/worm. Even the clean ones are usually used to collect email addresses; when you forward an email, all the previous email addresses stay in it and yours gets added to the list. 500 people later, a spammer has a ready-made address list so that they can send you and all your family and friends their advertisement for male enhancement.

In the last month or so, I've received from family members the following:

  • There are deadly spiders in the bathrooms at restaurants! (False)
  • If you use the button on your keychain to lock your car, people can steal the code and steal stuff from inside it! (False - it makes me laugh that they don't suggest they can steal the car)

I also get regular forwarded false emails about politics that I won't discuss here due to my no-politics policy on my blog. If you get one of these either Snopes or Factcheck is a good place to start for the debunk.

In general, if you assume that every chain email is false, you will be right the vast majority of the time. If you feel you MUST forward an email, copy and paste the text into a new email to break the chain. No bad luck will befall you (although it may befall the spammer who just lost their address list).

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