How to spot a Hoax, Scam, or Urban Legend?

Picture of Glade PlugIn Air Freshener

I just received an email from a relative regarding a warning about House Fires caused by Glade PlugIns brand air fresheners. At first I was worried because I do use several plugin products such as night lights, and air fresheners, but then it dawned on me that this could be a hoax. So I did some searching on the Internet and sure enough it is a hoax. This email has been circulating the Internet since 2004 and the actual problem dates back to the early 1990s. You can read about it here.

(ô¿ô) Look for the following clues to spot a Hoax, Scam, or Urban Legend:

  1. The message urges you to forward it to everyone you know or everyone in your address book. This is your number one clue!
  2. The message appeals to your emotions instead of just informing you. Look for lots of Exclamations!!! and **punctuations** and CAPITAL LETTERS.
  3. The message sounds too good to be true. Don’t fall for the “You won our Lottery” scam or help me claim a large sum of money scam. This is also done over the phone.
  4. The message is very urgent, but you never heard about it in other venues such as TV, Radio, or Newspaper. IE: Electrical Hazards or House Fires caused by plugin air fresheners.
  5. The message offers you something for FREE. There is always a catch.
  6. Look for the phrases “This is not a hoax.” or “This is not an urban legend” or “There is no catch”.
  7. The message claims something bad will happen to you if you do not forward or act on the message. And vice versa, if you do act on the message something great will happen. This is typical in chain letters. Just delete them. Nothing bad will happen.
  8. The message claims to fix an issue; be it computer related or even medical related. This one is popular with Virus hoaxes.
  9. Do not click on any links in the message! Verify the message with the sender or online via google or at a Hoax website (see links below).
  10. Some of these messages will look and sound very authentic. They will try everything they can to convince you the message is real. Be skeptical.

Search Snopes.com for hoaxes, urban legends, old wives’ tales, common fallacies, misinformation, strange news, rumors, and even celebrity gossip.

How Stuff Works – Urban Legends
Urban Legends and Folklore at About.com

Top 25 Urban Legends

How to avoid an email Hoax?

List of Fake Give Aways and Other Riches


Now forward this post to everyone you know or in the next 24 hours something very terrible will happen… I might not get any readers…