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Is That E-Mail I Got For Real?

1.  Chances are that e-mail you got with a too good to be true claim or a frightening new threat out in public is NOT true.  That's not to say they all are false.  Believe it or not, I'm going against the intent of this page and letting you know that SOME of them are true.  Thing is, it's only like 5% of them.  So please check it out before sending it on.  And if it's false, let the person who sent it to you know it's false.

Below are some of the common hoaxes, and links to find out if an e-mail you received is true or not.

2. This is to protect you more than prevent you from forwarding e-mails.  If you get an e-mail from your financial institution asking you to update your personal information and there's a link in the e-mail, DO NOT USE THAT LINK!  Instead go directly to that institutions real website and log into your account there to verify your information.  Most of the time those links are sites made up to look like your financial institution's site, and once you enter your "updated" information, someone now has enough information about you to spend lots of your money.

3. Big companies don't do business via chain letters. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation.  There is no such thing as an e-mail tracker, and Outback Steakhouse, the Gap, Microsoft, and any other company mentioned in a chain letter as having rented one, haven't.

There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. Procter and Gamble is not part of a satanic cult or scheme, and its logo is not satanic.

MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people.

Furthermore, just because someone said in a message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it's legit", does not actually make it true (even if they put a legitimate sounding name and job title in there).  You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true."

Forget about getting something for nothing just for forwarding an e-mail -- it ain't gonna happen, not in this life or the next.

In fact, the only way someone would know you forwarded that e-mail, was if your system was being monitored specifically, which in 99.9% of the cases means you are under a criminal investigation and probably should be keeping a low profile and not sending mass e-mails out anyway.

4. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, visit one of my links below. And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have."; That's "none" as in "zero". Not even your friend's cousin's mailman's sister.

5. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a free copy at: Then, if you make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on. (But only to those in your mailing list that might actually appreciate it.)

6. If the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think this information would reach the public via a chain letter?

7. There is no "Good Times"; virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm that an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses.  Try one of the sites in the links below to confirm it. And even then, don't forward it. And you cannot get a virus from a flashing IM, you have to download or open.... ya know, like, a FILE!

8. There is no gang initiation plot to murder any motorist who flashes headlights at another car driving at night without lights.  Nor is there a deadly game called "spunkball" where teenagers throw lit gasoline soaked rags into cars.

9. If you still absolutely MUST forward that 100th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 12 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the ">"s that begin each line either.  (There's a neat feature called "replace" which can replace the ">"s with nothing!  Besides, if it has gone around that many times we've probably already seen it.

10. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is no longer a "little boy" either.  Also, most of the "missing children" e-mails have been resolved one way or another.  (Either found alive or dead).  Forwarding them along is most likely not going to help.

11. The "Make a Wish" foundation is a real organization doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hot line in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation.  It is distracting them from the important work they do.

12. If you are one of those insufferable idiots who forwards anything that "promises" something bad will happen if you "don't"; then something bad should happen to you if anyone should ever meet you in a dark alley.  Granted some of those e-mails have some fun exercises on them.  Just delete the plea to forward it on to as many people as possible on the bottom of the e-mail if that's the case (and only send it to friends you know will enjoy it).

13. There are no documented cases of anyone or group taping HIV infected needles to gas handles, in phone coin returns, or in between movie theater seats.  It doesn't hurt, however to watch out for stuff like this, but that's pretty much common sense anyway, and everyone should already know to do this.

14. There is no bill pending before Congress that will allow long distance companies to charge you for using the Internet, or will tax you for using the internet, or anything else of that sort.  The only bills before Congress about the internet have to do with trying to keep explicit information restricted to adults and protecting the children of the world.

15.  Forwarding mass e-mails slows down the internet and costs corporations lots of money.  Where do you think those costs end up?  That's right, we the consumer pay for it.  I for one don't appreciate having to pay more for everything because some idiot decided they wanted to take Bill Gates up on his non-existent offer to pay them for every Joe Blow they could forward an e-mail to!

16. Everyone's "not purchasing a drop of gasoline for one day" will not cause oil companies to "choke on their stockpiles." Oil companies run their inventories on a weekly basis, and since the "gas out" scheme doesn't call on people to buy less gasoline but simply to shift their date of purchase by one day, oil company stockpiles won't be affected at all. 

Next, merely shifting the day of purchase will not "hit the entire industry with a net loss of over $4.6 billion." Consumers won't be buying any less gasoline under this "gas out" proposal; they'll simply be purchasing gas a day earlier or a day later than they usually would. The very same amount of gasoline will be sold either way, so the oil companies aren't going to lose any money at all. 

By definition, a boycott involves the doing without of something, with the renunciation of the boycotted product held up as tangible proof to those who supply the commodity that consumers are prepared to do without it unless changes are made. What the "gas out" calls for isn't consumers' swearing off using or buying gasoline, even for a short time, but simply shifting their purchases by one day. Because the "gas out" doesn't call on consumers to make a sacrifice by actually giving up something, the threat it poses is a hollow one. Not buying gas on a designated day may make people feel a bit better about things by providing them a chance to vent their anger at higher gasoline prices, but the action won't have any real impact on retail prices. 

An effective protest would involve something like organizing people to forswear the use of their cars on specified days, an act that could effectively demonstrate the reality of the threat that if gasoline prices stay up, American consumers are prepared to move to carpooling and public transportation for the long term. Simply changing the day one buys gas, however, imparts no such threat, because nothing is being done without.  Moreover, the primary potential effect of the type of boycott proposed in the "gas out" messages is to hurt those at the very end of the oil-to-gasoline chain, service station operators the people who have the least say in setting gasoline prices. As such, the "gas out" is a punch on the nose delivered to the wrong person. (text borrowed from

17.  Most of the political libel that gets passed around via e-mail is false, or at best a massive exaggeration of the facts.  Don't pass it on unless you verify it.  There are plenty of ways to do so!

Bottom Line... composing e-mail or posting something on the Net is as easy as writing on the walls of a public restroom. Don't automatically believe it until it's proven true... ASSUME it's false, unless there is proof that it's true.  And even then, be prudent about sending it on!

Links to check on those questionable e-mails: