Updated: 11/16/2019 by Computer Hope
Chat bubble with the word Hoax!

A hoax is a term that describes anything that is not real. For example, many hoax e-mails are distributed to cause false fears. Another example is the "Bad Times" virus claimed to be capable of erasing everything on your computer's hard drive, and any disks near your computer. These claims were false. Today, most hoaxes are spread through chain e-mails.

What are examples of hoaxes?

A hoax can be anything that would elicit fear, make you angry, or seem important. In other words, a hoax is anything that makes you forward, reply, or action without first validating the source of information. Examples of hoxes may include any of the following.

  • End of the world or judgment day.
  • Fake virus or other computer threat.
  • Predicted future disaster, or another type of prediction.
  • Missing person.
  • Famous person's death or other illness.
  • Major cure or breakthrough in science.
  • Political or election news that causes a lot of anger.
  • Outlandish religious news about a church or its members.
  • Unproven phenomenon relating to aliens, ghosts, or other supernatural events.
  • Urban legends or other common myths.
  • Attempting to extort money because of a claim your computer was hacked.
  • An attack or threat of an attack by an organization, country, or person.

How can I check if an e-mail is a hoax?

Always be suspicious of everything you read on the Internet and especially what you read in an e-mail. It is possible for anyone to create a web page and to send an e-mail containing any message. If something seems too good to be true or seems beyond belief, always fact check what you are reading with other sources before forwarding the e-mail to friends and family. A popular page that keeps track of the most common hoxes is Snopes.

How can I prevent falling for a hoax?

Unfortunately, hoaxes cannot be prevented, especially if you have friends and family who frequently share chain e-mails they receive. We advise that you always verify an e-mail is not a hoax before forwarding it or sharing it on social media. Also, if you do have a friend or family member who shares hoaxes, let them know what they're doing.


You can also reduce the amount of spam and hoaxes you receive from other people by always being cautious of where you share and post your e-mail address.

Why are hoaxes bad?

An e-mail hoax will do nothing to your computer and is only going to be a waste of your time. However, it can annoy other people, and cause problems for your e-mail service if too many e-mails are sent because of the hoax.

Phishing, Scam, Security terms, Spam, Virus