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Fraudulent emails or links are not always about stealing your passwords or getting you involved in some strange money transaction from Sierra Leone. Sometimes they are less obvious and much more deceiving. Likewise, spreading a false rumor may cause quite some damage to an involved character or institution.

The easiest way to avoid being scammed or multiply false information is to always mistrust mass mails, unrequested offers or small print. I believe you guys reading MakeUseOf find it rather easy to spot when something’s wrong and I believe you all know that a search engine is the best place to test your hypothesis should you have any doubts.

Google reveals that there are many websites that collect the story behind the fraud or that uncover legends and myths as such. These sites can be both helpful and entertaining.

Let’s have a look at the best…

Ripoff Report

Ripoff Report was founded in an effort to fight unethical behavior among people. The website has been operating since 1998 and is available to users worldwide.

If you as a consumer has had trouble with a company, this is where you can share your frustration and warn other potential customers.

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For the less experienced consumer and internet user the site has a collection of helpful tips what to do or not to do. The Consumer Tips addresses issues like how to protect your identity, spot work-at-home scams or avoid telephone cramming.  An excellent resource you should point anyone to, who mindlessly forwards such offers to you.

Snopes

Ever heard the story that Jamie Lee Curtis genetically is a male or a hermaphrodite? Since there is neither a proof for nor against this case, it cannot be said for sure, but this story appears to be an urban legend.

Snopes has been uncovering urban legends since 1995 and quite frankly is a fantastic source for online entertainment. The main site features a Top 15 list of legends on the left and a rich selection of categories in the center.

If someone tells you a story you’re not so sure of, go ahead and search Snopes. And if you think you have uncovered a myth that is not yet listed on Snopes, become a part of the supporting crew and submit the rumor, photo or video in question.

BreakTheChain

Chain emails are the worst. Fake virus warnings, false missing child reports or scary threats such as “forward or die“. Yeah right!

Please don’t foster the chain, break it! You can easily verify whether or not the chain is valid at BreakTheChain by using the search feature and a few keywords.

So these are the best three sites from my point of view. Of course there are many more. Either way, next time you come across a doubtful email, don’t just discard it. Take a moment to educate the sender with a link back to the respective article on one of those sites.

Also next time you have a bad experience as a customer, don’t just let it go, rather second a previous post of a similar issue or spread the word and you may keep someone else from making the same mistake.

What is the last scam or myth you (almost) fell for?

Picture credit: mattosense

  1. Jack Alexander
    March 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    There is also

    scam.com and

    419eater.com for those of you who want to or would like to play with those African/scam/phishing emails you get.

  2. Tina
    March 4, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Thanks for the feedback and additional links folks!

    Hoax Slayer is cool because they also have a section for "true stories", in some cases with a bit of background information. Everyone should have a look at that. The "Door to Hell" one freaked me out [http://www.hoax-slayer.com/door-to-hell.shtml]. Incredible!

  3. alper
    March 4, 2009 at 2:18 am

    hoax-slayer.com/ i'm following

  4. Jolyn
    March 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Great article on good resources. always good to be reminded of places to go for more information. Thanks.

  5. Nanda
    March 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for this article and information. after I read, I get the benefit

    Regard

  6. DannyR
    March 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    This is a useful site for spotting scams too:

    http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/identify.php

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