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More About Viruses, Chain Letters And Spam Mail.

Many solicitors use computer programs to search web pages for email links (like the one we have, here). After the programs gather the addresses, businesses send junk mail to all the addresses they collected. That's why we take the step of asking folks to add the end of our address, when they send us email. It cuts down on the spam.

In an effort to do some small part to educate computer users, speed up the Internet, and reduce the amount of junk mail you get, we offer this information. It was taken from several letters, magazine articles and web postings related to this topic.

1. Never open e-mail attachments unless you know who they are from and exactly WHAT they are. Even if they appear to be from a friend, they may contain a virus. A recent virus was spreading itself by sending email messages to people contained in the user's address book, without the user's knowledge. Many people got the virus assuming the attachment was safe since it "came from their friend".

2. Never forward any virus warnings. Most all virus "warnings" are fakes. Many of these messages have been found to be thinly disguised efforts to SPREAD viruses.

3. Buy a good virus protection program... like Norton. Then you don't have to worry nearly as much (and you will feel better when you put those virus "warnings" in the trash).

4. If you still choose to believe a virus warning, verify it. Go to a reliable web site and check it out before you start worrying that you may have it. You will find this site to be GREAT: http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html

5. Never provide your real name, or your real email address when asked... especially if you go in chat rooms. If you use a program like AOL, that gives you several different "screen names" under your main account, use one of the other names to surf the web. Then you can set your preferences for that particular screen name not to receive any mail. Or, just don't open any mail you receive at that screen name.

6. Never forward ANYTHING that promises you ANYTHING in return. All of those notes are fake and the forwards help slow down the Internet mail system. Of course, everyone who gets your forwarded note will remember who sent it to them and why (because you thought YOU could get something free)!

Despite what many fake chain letters say, there is no such thing as an "email tracking program", or the "beta program written by Microsoft engineers". So, promises that something will happen if you forward a note to a certain number of people are all FAKE. There is no way that ANYTHING will EVER happen by sending a note to a certain number of people... except that you may upset the people who you "spammed" by sending them the note. :-)

7. If it sounds too good to be true... it is. Put it in the trash. No matter how convincing they are ("my brother did this and he got $$$" or "I did this and it works" or "so and so is a lawyer and he says this is true", etc.) they are all FAKE!

8. If you get a spam letter, and it says "click here to be removed from our list", don't do it. Many spammers use those notes as an indication that they have found a legitimate address where they can send mail.

9. You may want to go into your web browser preferences and set it so you do not accept "cookies", or to only accept them with your premission. Although a very few sites will not open properly, you should know that cookies are used to track your moves on the web.

10. There is a great site on the web to read about hoazes, and fake chain letters, etc. Check it out. You can click on this link, or type in the address: http://www.nonprofit.net/hoax/default.htm

You can help stop spam when you send out notes to more than one person. Here's how:

Ever wonder why you get all that junk mail? If you don't do things to make your name available (chat rooms, web surfing, etc.), chances are your address has been taken from intercepted email messages. Every day many email messages are intercepted and read before they get to their intended address. It is fairly easy to do. Sometimes, all the addresses where the note was sent are added to master lists that are then used by telemarketers. Obviously, notes that are sent to a large group of people (like forwarded notes) are good targets.

No help prevent this, anytime you send out a note to more than one person, send it Blind Carbon Copy or .bcc. All email programs can do this. If you have a distribution list, pick the "bcc" option instead of the "to" option. If you manually put in the addresses, pick "bcc" instead of "to" or ".cc" when you put in each address. This will prevent all the legitimate email addresses from being shown to everyone who gets your message, and also keeps all those email addresses away from Internet telemarketers.

Finally, here is something more about many of the forwarded letters you may have already seen.

1. Big companies don't do business via chain letters. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. Proctor and Gamble is not part of a satanic cult or scheme, and its logo is not satanic. MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people. The Gap is not giving away free clothes. You can relax.

2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, see:
http://urbanlegends.tqn.com/library/weekly/aa062997.htm And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories." None have. That's "none" as in "zero." Not even your friend's cousin.

3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy at:
http://www.bl.net/forwards/cookie.html. Then, if you make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on.

4. If the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain letter?

5. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, EVER forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm that an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses. Try:
http://www.norton.com. And even then, don't forward it. We don't care. And you cannot get a virus from a flashing IM or email, you have to download it... ya know, like, a FILE!

6. There is no gang initiation plot to murder any motorist who flashes headlights at another car driving at night without lights.

7. If you're using Outlook, IE, or Netscape to write email, turn off the "HTML encoding." Those of us on Unix shells can't read it, and don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web browser since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.

8. If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the ">>>" that begin each line either. Besides, if it has gone around that many times we've probably already seen it.

9. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is no longer a "little boy" either.

10. The "Make a Wish" foundation is a real organization doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hot line in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation. It is distracting them from the important work they do.

11. If you are one of those insufferable idiots who forwards anything that "promises" something bad will happen if you "don't,"-- then something bad will happen to you if I ever meet you in a dark alley.

12. Women really are suffering in Afghanistan, but forwarding an e-mail won't help their cause in the least. If you want to help, contact your local legislative representative, or get in touch with Amnesty International or the Red Cross.

13. As a general rule, e-mail "signatures" are easily faked and mean nothing to anyone with any power to do anything about whatever the competition is complaining about.

14. KFC really does use real Chickens with feathers and beaks and feet. No, they really do. Why did they change their name? In this health conscious world, what was KFC's name? Kentucky FRIED Chicken. FRIED is not healthy. So with the help of a focus group, they changed the name to KFC. It's short, doesn't offend dieters and it's easy to remember.

15. Another thing, just because someone said in a message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it's legit," does not actually make it true.

16. There is NO bill pending before Congress that will allow long distance companies to charge you for using the Internet.

The bottom line is ... composing e-mail or posting something on the Internet is as easy as writing on the walls of a public restroom. ASSUME WHATEVER YOU READ IS FALSE unless YOU can prove that it is true.

You wouldn't walk out in front of a car because someone told you to. So, don't forward an email just because "someone told you to". A little Internet common sense goes a long way!

 

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