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TechNet Security - Internet Hoaxes

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

Last updated: April, 2001

At any given time, there are bogus chain letters, phony virus warnings, and other hoaxes circulating around the Internet. The easiest way to tell that an e-mail is a hoax is if the information detailed in it sounds too good to be true, for example, a promise of some monetary reward for passing along the e-mail to a friend. Most companies running special promotions in which they offer rewards will make this information available on their web sites, so if in doubt, visit the company's web site. If the information on the web site doesn't validate the information in the e-mail, the e-mail is most likely a hoax.

Another common topic for hoax e-mails is the announcement of a computer virus or other story intended to get a reader's attention, and to get the reader to take some action. Simple fact-checking usually is enough to determine whether such an e-mail is a hoax. These kinds of hoax e-mails often fall in a category called "urban legends."

Although Microsoft does not keep a list of current hoaxes, several other organizations do, some of which have been referenced below. (Note: These sites are not controlled by Microsoft, and Microsoft makes no guarantee about the information contained on them.)

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