A hoax is a term that describes anything that is not real. For example, many hoax e-mails are distributed to cause false fears. For another example, the "Bad Times" virus claimed to be capable of erasing everything on your computer's hard drive, as well as any disks or magnetic media near your computer. These claims were false. Today, most hoaxes are spread through chain e-mails.
What are some examples of hoaxes?
A hoax can be anything that would elicit fear, make you angry, or seem important. In other words, a hoax is typically anything that will make you forward, reply, or action without first validating the source of information. Good 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 that your computer has been hacked.
- An attack or threat of an attack by an organization, country, or person.
How can I check if an e-mail I received 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 it's easy for anyone 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. Our best advice is to not be part of the problem by always verifying 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, be sure to let them know what they're doing.
Tip: 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, if a hoax is forwarded to enough people, it can cause problems with your e-mail servers if it is sending and receiving too many e-mails because of the hoax.