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Cybersecurity Awareness: How To Identify An Email Hoax

What is an email hoax?

A hoax attempts to trick or defraud someone. A hoax could be malicious, instructing users to delete a file necessary to the operating system by claiming it is a virus or other harmful file. It could be a phishing attack that convinces users to click on a link and log into a website. It could also be a scam that convinces users to send money or personal information.

How can you tell if an email is a hoax?

Some messages are more suspicious than others, but be especially cautious if the message has any of the characteristics listed below. These characteristics are just guidelines not every hoax has these attributes, and some legitimate messages may have some of these characteristics:

  • It offers instructions or attachments claiming to protect you from a virus that is undetected by anti-virus software
  • It claims it’s not a hoax
  • There is a statement urging you to click on a link or to forward the message
  • It has already been forwarded multiple times (evident from the trail of email headers in the body of the message)
  • There are multiple spelling or grammatical errors, or the logic is contradictory

If you want to check the validity of an email, here is a website that provides information about hoaxes:

Please take a moment to consider this information. If you have questions, please be sure to contact your organization’s IT department for assistance.


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