Internet Scams: Don't Believe Everything You Read
When you receive an alarmist chain letter in the mail or see an outrageous article on the cover of a supermarket tabloid, you may easily recognize these as false. Some readers do not automatically question similar information on the Web or in an email forwarded by a friend. The Internet is still relatively new as a widespread method of communication, and many people are not yet savvy about identifying electronic hoaxes.
The Internet contains a wealth of valuable information, but it is often difficult to tell the good from the bad. With easy accessibility, low cost, and wide distribution, the Internet is a great medium for disseminating falsehoods and inaccuracies. Keep in mind that your 13-year-old neighbor can publish on the Web as easily as the New York Times can!
While most false information is not malicious, beware of scams intended to frighten or cheat you. Some common email scams are familiar from other media: get rich quick schemes; fad diets; and threatening email chain letters. But new technology begets new scams, from the scare over the nonexistent “Good Times” virus to an email circulated in 1998 that supposedly generated contributions for the American Cancer Society each time it was forwarded—in fact, it collected senders' email addresses so they could be sold for mailing lists.
What can you do to protect yourself from these types of scams? Here are a few simple tips:
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