Email Hoaxes and Urban LegendsThere are many e-mail hoaxes, chain letters, and urban legends circulating around the Internet. A common type of e-mail hoax is a fake virus warning. Sometimes these warnings ask you to pass it along to everyone you know which can clog e-mail servers and slow e-mail delivery. Other times, these e-mails tell you to follow certain instructions to protect yourself against a fake virus. If you follow these instructions, you may harm your computer and lose your data. It is important to remember that not everything you read on the Internet is true.
You should also be suspicious of requests for user or financial information. Identity theft and subsequent fraudulent use of personal information is growing. The methods used to gather your personal information are continually evolving, and are increasing in sophistication. Recently there has been a rise in the use of "spoofed", or faked, e-mail messages which seem to originate from known and trusted Internet vendors or financial institutions. These fake messages are very convincing, with believable logos and graphics.
This example shows a sample of one of these messages, requesting that you confirm confidential information about your Citibank account. However, if you filled in the information, it would not be sent to Citibank, and your Citibank account would be compromised. This is just one example of an attempt to get confidential information from you.
ITSD urges you to be suspicious of any requests to divulge confidential information via e-mail. Legitimate vendors will not request user account, password or credit card information using an e-mail form. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of an e-mail you receive, you should contact the purported source of the e-mail directly by going to their official website. Do not reply to the e-mail or click on links in the suspicious e-mail.
Remember, the simplest way for a criminal to get your private information is to ask you for it. Be skeptical, and think twice before you share private information over the Internet.
Please use the following links to determine if an e-mail you have received is a hoax or an urban legend, so that you are not fooled into forwarding false or potentially damaging information or releasing your private information.