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Does this sound familiar? You open your e-mail and find a scary message. It says a new virus is making the rounds. If you don't act quickly, your computer is dead!

The e-mail probably has a vague reference to a news story that appeared several months ago. It urges you to forward the message to everyone in your address book.

Don't bother. This is a hoax. By forwarding it, you're jamming other peoples' mailboxes and spreading panic.

Look at it this way: The companies that make anti-virus software attack viruses very quickly. So if there were a news report several months ago, the anti-virus companies would long since have developed an antidote. The idea that people on the Internet need to warn one another is laughable. Besides, the alleged virus doesn't even exist. Somebody just made it up. Why? I don't know; ask a sociologist.

A similar situation involves urban legends. For instance, you might get an e-mail about the annual "Internet Clean-Up Day." Search engines will scan the Internet, deleting any data they find, the e-mail says. It warns that you must disconnect from the Internet and stay off, or your data will be deleted. Again, it tells you to pass the message to everyone you know.

This, too, is a hoax. There is no such day. But how are you to know? When you get such a message, check a site devoted to unmasking hoaxes. Don't spread bad information. I like Hoaxbusters. Symantec has a virus hoax site, too. They're at:
http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html
 

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Generally, my advice to those who seem to fall victim to these emails is:
If an email asks you to forward it on to everyone you know, it's junk. NO company or individual will ever (or at least should ever) ask you to do such a thing.
 

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Here is another good hoax site: http://www.truthorfiction.com/

I refuse to call them "urban legends". That is much too nice a term for them and sounds too "official", lending credence to them. I prefer "bull$sit prectical jokes". Franca is right; any person that takes pleasure in other peoples' fear and suffering needs professional help! Thanks for the reminder Franca!
 

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I accidentaly got hoaxed a while back. I use hotmail to communicate with friends over the internet, and alot of times(more than any other chain) i get letters like

"HOTMAIL IS SHUTTING DOWN!!!"
they have 'authentic' sig's at the bottom. Ive sent that out before. Pretty pointless really. I realized two things

1- hotmail is a popular service BECAUSE they're free.
2- I didnt send it the 2nd, 3rd, etc times, nothing happened.
 
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