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These are either deliberate or unintentional email messages warning people about a phony virus or other malicious software program. Some hoaxes create as much trouble as viruses by causing massive amounts of unnecessary email, but most are simply annoying.
Most hoaxes contain one or more of the following characteristics:
- Warnings about an alleged new virus and its damaging consequences.
- Demands that the reader forward the warning to as many people as possible.
- Pseudo-technical "information" describing the virus.
- Bogus comments from officials: FBI, software companies, news agencies, etc. Names and phone numbers are often invented, or "borrowed" from real people who have no knowledge of the virus.
If you receive an email message about a virus, check with a reputable source to ensure the warning is real. Here are some links you can use to verify or debunk hoax viruses and other "urban legends."
Do your friends and your colleagues a favor – if you get an email about a virus hoax, DO NOT forward it.