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VZ Security Pages: Chain letters

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Chain letters

Let’s get this straight: Chain letters are complete rubbish - and have no impact on your life or the lives of others!

There are some telltale signs that allow you to recognise a chain letter:

  • Chain letters ask the recipient to forward the message on to as many people as possible within a limited period of time.
  • The topic of a chain letter, and its possible consequences, are often portrayed as dramatic and are exagerrated.
  • Any references in the message to time are normally very vague, e.g. ‘yesterday’ or ‘last week’.
  • Chain letters are often full of spelling mistakes.

The most common kinds of chain letters:

  • Fortune letters: These emails promise that something positive will happen when the message is forwarded on to as many people as possible within a certain time – you will find your true love, for example.
  • Emotional pleas: The stories that are depicted in these chain letters are fictitious, and are disrespectful towards those individuals who do suffer from serious illnesses.
  • Pointless e-petitions: This category includes those chain-letter movements that ask you to support or condemn something.
  • Urban Legends: These are like modern myths and involve the spreading of false information (poisonous ingredients in restaurants, for example). They are simply the product of someone’s imagination.
  • Competitions: These are normally chain letters that promise you money or prizes if you forward the message on to as many people as possible.

Reacting to chain letters:

Don’t do anything that a chain letters asks you to do. Break the chain by not sending it on to people, but simply deleting it. Write the sender a message that the chain letter contains misinformation.

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