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Yesterday I received an email marked urgent from a trusted business associate. The subject line was FW: VERY IMPORTANT. This person hardly ever used the High Importance exclamation point in emails and if something was marked as important – it was life threatening. I was a bit nervous as I opened the email.

Once I opened the email I had to smile. It was a doom and gloom message about a horrible computer virus that was on its way. The virus “burns the whole hard disc C of your computer…and destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.” After a quick internet search I found oodles of postings about this message and how it was, in fact, a hoax.

As email marketers we need to be weary and aware of these types of illegitimate, viral messages. The claims of a horrible virus might not be true, but the fear email recipients feel is real. Messages like this can compromise legitimate email messages. Also, many of these hoax messages single out a specific company. The company named is not involved with this message. They are, in fact, a victim.

One takeaway we can gleam from this fraudulent message is that email marketers need to be sensitive and aware of recipients email fears. There are bad people out there sending bad email messages.

- What would you do if your company was named in a hoax email?
- What actions, if any, should y
ou take with your subscribers?

Just because we know this message is not legit, does not mean we can assume others who received it also know it is false.

Here is the email I received:

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