Email Safety: To Forward or Not to Forward

FTC Stop Think Connect

To Forward or Not to Forward

The following post was published by the FTC this week with information on email safety and privacy concerns.
That is the question. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions we hear from visitors.

Email etiquette is important — not only for the sake of your personal and professional relationships, but for your computer’s security, too. Here are a few tips to help:

Don’t forward emails that say to do so — no matter how noble the cause. Many of these emails contain misinformation. In fact, there are entire websites devoted to sorting out fact and fiction in popular emails.

More importantly, some mass emails contain viruses and other malware, which can cause serious harm to your computer and expose your personal information to crooks. Malicious code can be hidden in graphics or links within the email so you don’t know it’s there. Forwarding these emails to others can put them at risk, too.

So, what should you do if you get an email you feel is worth passing on? Consider alternatives, like typing your own personal message in a new email. That way, you don’t unknowingly send something harmful.

If you decide to forward an email, resist the impulse to send it to everyone in your address book. It’s unlikely that they would all welcome the same message. Include a personal comment so the recipient knows the email really is from you. It’s a good idea to delete the forwarding information, including other email addresses, headers, and previous commentary.

If you plan to forward a message to more than one person and don’t want to send separate emails, use the BCC field so you don’t share your friends’ email addresses with people they don’t know.

Finally, if your contacts ask you not to forward mass emails to them, honor their request. They have good reason to be concerned about mass emails.

Read the original FTC OnGuardOnline post.

Nicole Vincent

Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

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