How can I check if a Virus warning is real or a hoax?

A. More and more warnings are being sent to people from ill-informed people trying to help regarding viruses which don't actually exist. The originators of these messages just try to see how many people it can be distributed to and cause panic.

Some of the best known hoaxes include:

  • The "Returned Mail" virus, which essentially tells you not to read any e-mail that was returned because the mailing system was "Unable to deliver" it. (If you can't read it, you may never find out why it wasn't delivered!) In fact, viruses can't be communicated very well with e-mail (except in certain file attachments).
  • The "Penpal Greetings" virus
  • The "Good Times" virus, one of the oldest
  • Budweiser Screen Saver (obviously started by someone who likes Beck's)

A number of sources exist that list these hoaxes so if you receive a message always check before forwarding to others (as you just make it worse). If you find it is a hoax message reply to the sender informing them of the fact to avoid future distribution.


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.