Chain letters, fake virus warnings, petition letters and other internet hoaxes, sent in email messages, can often mislead, trick or frighten recipients into forwarding these messages to others. Chain letters waste time and bandwidth and often supply spammers with addresses that, in turn, can interfere with receiving legitimate email.

Remember, legitimate warnings and notifications are not issued through email. Reputable organizations use more timely and effective communication like TV, radio or newspapers to warn the public.

There are three basic types of chain letters:

  1. Those that promise good luck or threaten bad luck.
  2. Pyramid-scheme letters that promise to make you lots of money (it is illegal to ask for money or product in a chain letter).
  3. Hoaxes or urban legends related to police incidents, health issues, computer viruses or missing children.

  • Validate email alerts and messages by checking the sender’s website or contact them using a trusted phone number.
  • Use a search engine to conduct an advanced search on the subject of the message to verify its authenticity.
  • Delete chain letters and hoax messages when they appear in your inbox.
  • If in doubt, forward the email to your internet service provider or your computer security manager. Ask friends to not send you chain letters.
  • Check an urban legend website to validate the information.