Browsers, E-mail, & Web Apps forum

General discussion

Poll: What do you do when you receive a chain letter?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 13, 2011 8:32 AM PDT
What do you do when you receive a chain letter in your e-mail from a friend or family member?

-- Read and forward it, as instructed.
-- Read and delete it.
-- Read it and reply to sender to tell him/her to stop sending spam.
-- Delete it without reading it.
-- Flag the sender as spam, even if that person is a friend/family member.
-- Reply to the e-mail and give that person a piece of your mind!
-- Set up a special filter/folder for that sender's e-mails.
-- Other (Please explain.)
Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Poll: What do you do when you receive a chain letter?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Poll: What do you do when you receive a chain letter?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Chain emails, forward this to 10 feiends, etc...
by pebarefoot / May 13, 2011 10:15 AM PDT

To me it makes a big difference 2( who sent it, and 2) what is the content. If it is from one of my IT friends who has a similar politcal philosophy, I may very well forward it, BUT< if it is from one I know to be uninformed or lax in their security opr it represents a topic I don't support (of which they may be a number) I put it in that little round file that is so handy, lol. Love that delete button! And I'm very serious about MY security! I have a good , complete security suite that runs al, the time. I have several excellent cleaner programs (MalwareBytes, Lavesoft and others. I routinely do regular computer maintenance, disk clean, registry clean (I add and remove programs frequently to test them), defarg (I'm running XP Pro but will be upgrading to Win7 Ultimate 64 bit this summer). In addition to that I run full security scans with t least 3 products every month. I'm satisfied I have a clean computer! I built it. I maintain it regularly. And if I see any signs of possible malware, I do it anyway! I keep a clean and happy, fast computer, as do my IT friends. Incidentally, I learned to turn a computer on by myself in July '06. Happy I month in I downloaded the SP2 for XP because I wanted to run streaming videos. Unknown to me, installing SP2 screwed up ones Windows. MS verified my Windows so I could install, the Sp2s. 3 days later <S shut me off the 'net, saying my Windows were pirated. 2 weeks prior, MS knew of this problem with their anti-piracy tool but still did it. I had to buy new XP Pro, $160 at the time, on sale. Now 5 years later I'n building them, doing ALL my own troubleshooting and repair, plus I'm fixing my friends computers. I'm thinking of hanging out a shingle!

Collapse -
How I deal with chain letters
by dicunning / May 13, 2011 10:27 AM PDT

When I get one of these types of emails and the person has shown the addresses of everyone they've forwarded it to, the first thing I do is send them an email on why everyone should use BCC. I've Googled "using BCC" and have found some really straightforward & easy to understand articles on this subject, clear enough for even the most computer illiterates. I usually copy & paste the text into a new message & add my personal thoughts. Also, I ask them to please change my email address to my Hotmail account as my personal email address is for "safe" emails, business, letters, etc. - not SPAM! If the person continues to send me these types of emails, I block their address & bounce back the email to them.

If I do receive an email that has some good information in it, I will copy & paste into a new message, delete any references to forwarding it to 10 people, etc. and use BCC to forward it to the people that I trust & that know how to use BCC. But I would say that I've been able to educate the vast majority of my friends/family but there's always those 2 or 3 people who don't either read the directions or just don't care about Spam, because they don't understand how it works and don't realize the consequences.

And when I do get an email that I know is a hoax, I go onto Snopes or Hoaxbuster and copy the link and reply to their email with the URL cut & pasted in the body of the message and in the subject line in capital letters I type in (after their subject) "THIS IS A HOAX". I had one friend reply to me and said, "I kind of thought it was a hoax but I knew you would check it out!" And this is after she had already emailed it to her whole contacts list!

Collapse -
Excellent point!
by pebarefoot / May 13, 2011 12:04 PM PDT
Excellent point!
Collapse -
Con't want to slam the door on the person, just the Spam
by FurAndFeathers / May 13, 2011 10:37 AM PDT

I am surprised at these results! Maybe thats why there are so many virul emails out there. The time I spend on my computer is MINE. If I ask someone, clearly, firmly and repeatedly to stop sending me those "cute" emails, and they continue to do so they deserve to have those emails with Fw; automaticly deleted! When I want to persue humorous or touching subjects I do. They are all over the internet. When I want to read my mail, I want it to be MAIL. That is how I get my news, updates from my loved ones, and even holiday greetings. I do not have that much time to waste.

This is why it makes me so angry. When I was very sick, and unable to work, I had to go to a public library to use the internet. The one hour I was on the computer was divided into email and research. Those darn junk mails, from people I knew, took between 25 and 45 mins of my free internet time. And these people don't care one bit if you ask them not to send it. They just change the subject back to "how cute...!"

I am much better now, but life is short and precious, and its my computer. I also keep a second email account for legal, medical, and important business mail. That's just smart, you never really know who might be Phishing.

Collapse -
How I Feel About Chain Letter Emails
by MissCapri / May 13, 2011 2:18 PM PDT

I agree, forwards are junk, impersonal junk. They're no way to keep up communication, and a very poor substitute for it. Even the viral video links drive me crazy. You know those Youtube videos that tend to hit your inbox from all directions because it's trending on the Daily Tube or something? Yes, that little kid is amazing for reciting the alphebet all the way through at only 18 months old. But for gosh sakes, when you get that same link from about 7 breathlessly amazed forwards within two days, and then another lot two days later, and I don't even know the darn kid in real life, seriously, people... Photoshopped cute animal pictures and animations doing sickly cute things, no thanks. Sappy tear-jerking stories or poems, no thanks. They're all such manipulative junk and I'd rather my friends got together with me in person to watch some movie or TV show we have in common than send me a goopy chain letter that's designed to yank your emotions hard so you'll do its bidding and spread it around, adding to the zillions of copies of it already out there. Don't even get me started on political and religious chain letters. I'm a Christian and get really offended over religious exploitive fraudulent chain letters, and wish more Christians would wake up and stop letting themselves get used like that. Sick/dying kid hoaxes - get me in a room with whoever started those, and only one of us would come out again, and it wouldn't be them. What kind of sick...? And for all I know, the same people who started the Amy Bruce dying kid hoax could very well be behind that "I Picked You To Be Blessed" chain letter with all the cute puppies and bunnies, the saccharin poem, the tear-jerking story that claims to be true but really isn't, and topped off with a few scriptures thrown strategically in, plus a "Pass this on and brighten your friends' day, if you don't, God will deny you." crap.

Collapse -
Thanks For The Memories
by FurAndFeathers / May 13, 2011 10:48 PM PDT

I want to write something serious but this is so true it's patheticly funny! I had (almost) forgotten about the "I picked you to be blessed" missive. That thing stopped me cold. I had no idea what to make of it. It still defies classification. What a freak-parade-in-english! I still recall the guilt, the dismay, the disorientation, and the discust. I was more afraid bad things were going to happen to me because of what I thought about that bazarre schitzo representation of the intellegence of mankind, as opposed to any failure to be blessed. What a relief to hit delete!
I'm a Christian, that does not represent me or God.
Conclusion: The Devil Knows Scripture
Oh yeah, almost forgot, Forward this to all your friends!

Collapse -
Hehe You're Welcome.
by MissCapri / May 15, 2011 11:21 AM PDT

Lol That "I Picked You" is just one of many such chain letters I really sound off about on my site. I even made an audio rant on it but lost the file since getting a better microphone, and Youtube. But seriously, "I picked you" For what? Oh, yeah, for *drumroll* getting all this junkmail! Not something truly friend-like, such as an invite out for coffee or something. Just another lousy chain letter. And the line "Let's see Satan stop this one" It's like - uh, people, did you not realize he started this blasted stuff? Yes. Those things get me right ticked off, and it's great to express oneself about it, and read and enjoy others' similar expressions and feelings. Yknow, I don't even fit in on many discussion boards where people vent about this stuff. This is the best thread I've come across in a long while, it's good and active, and ongoing, and, not full of the sort of stuff that passes for discussion on the Snopes message boards. Hehe, I'm putting up a link to this thread on my own site. And the "I Picked You" is definitely cause for a headdesk, but I've seen some that were even worse. They just burn, they really do.

Collapse -
What I Wrote Smashing the I Picked You Fwd
by MissCapri / May 15, 2011 9:16 PM PDT

This is what I wrote, to get it off my chest and put it out there so hopefully people who stumble on it will think before sending any more of this tripe.

Collapse -
Before I Delete
by MarkieSparkle / May 13, 2011 12:11 PM PDT

I'm liable to check it out at Especially if it's one of those "poor little kid" or school project chain letters. It's sometimes amusing to find school project chain letters that have been going around since 1996.

Anyway, if there's anything on, I copy the url & inform the sender (only), also suggesting they check these things before sending on. After a few responses like that, they leave me off the distribution list.

But no, I never send them on. Let me qualify that -- the only people I send them on to are the people who are constantly sending that crap.


Collapse -
Not Even Snopes Is Enough
by MissCapri / May 15, 2011 3:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Before I Delete

Sometimes even sending them a Snopes link doesn't shape them up. I once sent a debunk on a Snopes link to someone through Twitter, and they spewed back with "Snopes is flaming leftist!" I screamed, and sent them a TruthOrFiction link to debunk that chain letter as well. Argh!

Collapse -
Did it really come from a family member or friend?
by antiquefart / May 13, 2011 12:26 PM PDT

A similar thing happened to me, but it was a hoax. My niece's address book was hacked into, and spoof emails are still now being sent out to everyone from her book. I phoned her as soon as I saw what it was. She immediately closed that account and opened a new one with a different email provider. Then from her new account she sent out an email to everyone, giving her new address, and warning them not to open anything from her old address.

It's not that difficult to hack into someone else's email account, and it happens fairly regularly. If you're ever doubtful or suspicious about an email, always check the internet headers before opening it - look for the Return Path, and other information given in the headers. This isn't foolproof, but it cuts out a lot of well-disguised spam and spoofs.

Collapse -
by antiquefart / May 13, 2011 12:37 PM PDT

I also have an older friend who likes to forward jokes and funny pictures to her friends and family. It took a while, but I've finally persuaded her to 1) always delete all previous forwards, and 2) to put only herself on the TO line, and everyone else that she's sending to on the BCC line, with the CC line left blank.

Collapse -
I smash chain letters.
by MissCapri / May 13, 2011 2:02 PM PDT

If it's a chain letter that I can send a debunk back with a link to a site, I'll do that. But for those that don't seem to be archived on hoax-busting sites, I'll usually sound off on my own site about them, but give the contact who sent the chain letter a caution not to send forwards, because they can't determine what sort of friend you are or how many true friends you have etc. Even for the extremely rare case when a chain fwd contains a true story, I'll still reply with a link to an article about it on a hoax-busting site.

Collapse -
I hate it, but I love my friends anyway
by snowleopard55 / May 13, 2011 4:45 PM PDT

90% of these stupid things not only say "forward to ..." but they ask you to send it back to the person who sent it to you so they know they are loved (or something). I always reply to the person and explain that I do not EVER forward chain letters and thank them for thinking of me.

If there is bad info in it, I let them know (yay for!).

This has actually worked for me because I only have one person left who still sends me this kind of crap.

Collapse -
I Don't Feel Loved By People Who Prefer Chain Letters To Me.
by MissCapri / May 15, 2011 3:21 AM PDT

I've found out that some people go on sending junk to others. Sure, they leave me off their junk lists, but they continue sending crud to other people who are too timid to say anything about it or else are just as easily fooled, or simply indifferent about it. That seriously ticks me off at these people. And then there are some of the new people to me, who start out having great conversations, sending notes back and forth, but then, the inevitable happens - they start sending forwards. at that point, except for sending back debunks when possible, I can pretty much consider the friendship over.

Collapse -
What would I do when I receive a chain letter
by Newbie Chris / May 13, 2011 11:19 PM PDT

I use 'slimbrowser' as my web browser (the IE 8 hybrid). I would tick its box and I would report to Microsoft as a "phishing scam" under the heading "Mark As".
I reckon Microsoft will investigate it, and if it is genuine, Microsoft will let me know.

Collapse -
It is easier to be nice if the solution works
by FurAndFeathers / May 13, 2011 11:25 PM PDT

I fully appreciate that there are many people who enjoy sending out jokes, etc. I in no way like to interfere with another's right to happiness. But this behavior, if not illegal, is surely the next best thing. I have been dealing with one indiscriminate mailer for three + years, and two email accounts. Family politics keep the lid on it, but one member has given up her email completely because she can't use it the way she wants without MailHell from getting her address. Now the person without the convenience of email is a retired and disabled person herself.
I admire your patience with your friend, but I don't think that you have had this interfere with your right to happiness. There is a reason people hate this stuff.
Maybe an analogy. This has all the charm of having your door bell ditched every time you sit down to get something done. Read your mail, got 15 min.s, ding-****, get back 10 min.s ding-****....
I really wish it didn't irritate so much, but it's entertainment and a feeling of popularity, at the risk and expense of others.

Collapse -
other-what I do
by chrissyd2 / May 14, 2011 1:15 AM PDT

I call or send a seperate email to the person asking if they sent it to me. Then I open it and see who else it was sent to and where it originated. If I know all of them I read it and either delete it or copy and paste the content without the forward request into a blank email and forward it that way so it can't be tracked and then delete the original one I received. I cannot send it to spam because then all the mail from them will go there.

Collapse -
you post
by chrissyd2 / May 14, 2011 1:25 AM PDT

You sound like me. I custom built my computer and run windows 7 on it and a couple of virus programs that are compatible with each other and what one misses the other catches and I do regular maintenance on it to keep it happy. I just did a defrag even though it was only 2% fragmented. I also fix friends computers. I just did one that was loaded with viruses and I had to go online to find programs for certain ones but as fast as I would remove them more would pop on because it had several trojan downloaders on it and my internet is always connected. Without thinking I put it on my network and got a call from my provider that the viruses were trying to access there servers and threatened to shut me down if I did not fix it. I explained what happened and took it off my network and used linksys wireless unsecure so it would not affect my network and had to go through all the computers on it to ensure no viruses got on the rest. There were so many viruses I ended up having to wipe it and reload it. When I gave it back it had virus protection on it. Her virus protection had exspired and was not working because she had not renewed it. Her second computer the video card went and it was an onbaord card so I put a new one in the slot and gave it back working like a charm.

Collapse -
your post
by chrissyd2 / May 14, 2011 1:28 AM PDT

I too have a second email for business purposes mainly because my main one is not appropriate for such things. lol

Collapse -
your comments
by chrissyd2 / May 14, 2011 1:32 AM PDT

My email got out because of a business who was hacked and they got all our emails. I got a notice from them letting me know but now my spam folder fills up fast and some come to my inbox and I have to send them to the spam folder. All this because a company did not make sure their systems were secure.

Collapse -
Chain emails
by crazyquiltmom / May 14, 2011 10:23 AM PDT

I use Hotmail which enables me to right click the message to view the message source without opening the email. I ensure that it is from a legitimate sender. Then, if it truly is a chain email, apparent phishing scam, etc., I delete the email without opening it.

Collapse -
Crissyd2 & Crazy
by FurAndFeathers / May 14, 2011 11:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Chain emails

Crissyd2 Do You want to be me friend? Anyway your friends are lucky. I killed my first computer (worth more than my car) and didn't trust anyone after $200... needs.... $150... needs...Now I take care of of my machine. Regular maintanance, this isn't a toaster.
Crazy Great point, preview, I also have Smart-Screen that can be run before opening. Still not perfect, and still takes time, but those once in awhile senders aren't that bad.
I have to stop watching this post, the grass is growing.

Collapse -
friends is good
by chrissyd2 / May 15, 2011 1:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Crissyd2 & Crazy

I met my current husband because I had trouble with my computer. I could not defrag it. It would take over 16 hours because it kept restarting. I did not even know how to turn off the programs running in the background. I had been chatting online with him for several months and he was certified in computers and ran the network for a large company. He offered to come over and fix it for me. He upgraded my ram as well and showed me how to close program so the defrag would go faster. We have been together since then and he supported me when I decided to go to college to get my computer degree. He has years of working in the feild and is still better than me. When I get stuck on something I ask him and learn something new. I love fixing them and find9ng out what the problem is, Computers and medical have always been my passion. I posted comments on here that got thumb down instead of replying and answering my question. I'm here for 2 reasons. I help when I can and I learn new things but I need a re[ly explaining why the thumb down. I have never killed a computer yet. My condolences to you for the death of yours. If I am unsure I ask someone who knows or I do research to find my answer. The chain letters are a pain but some have funny or interesting information in them and I like to send them. We can all use a laugh now and then. I copy the content, minus the forward to 10 people part and paste it into a blank email, send it to myself, and then forward it out. Is this wrong?


Collapse -
Chain mails
by Newbie Chris / May 15, 2011 11:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Chain emails

To) crazyquiltmom. I am only an internet 'Newbie'. When you right click and ask for the email senders address, How do you know, just by looking at it wether its by a 'legitimate sender' or not ?
On 'Slimbrowser you can get the same result by just hovering the 'hand' over the email senders address in the left hand column............... (Before it gives the incoming messages title)


Collapse -
Educating your friends and family
by dicunning / May 15, 2011 6:24 AM PDT

It seems like the majority of people who have posted in response to this subject still get too many forwards, jokes, chain letters, etc. But I don't think that we should just delete or block every one of them because some of our friends and family just don't know any better. Not everyone is computer literate and how are they to learn proper etiquette if we don't offer them advice?

This is a site that I've forwarded to a number of people immediately after receiving one of the dreaded emails (and before I delete it for eternity!):
If they continue to send me "crap" after, then I block them!

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions

CNET Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for great gifts under $100?

Trendy tech gifts don't require a hefty price tag. Choose from these CNET-recommended useful and high-quality gadgets.