Have you ever received an e-mail that sounded too good to be true?
It sounds so simple: if you forward an e-mail to everyone in your address book, Bill Gates himself, founder of Microsoft, will send you a check for a nice chunk of change. Not only could you use the money, but earning it is painless! Although it may sound phony, the message was sent to you from someone you trust. Not to mention the offer was even talked about on Good Morning America! Before you send that forward, though, consider the three W's of e-mail.
Who? Consider the source. If the e-mail came from your best friend Janie or your Uncle Fred, then you might want to examine it more closely. If the e-mail came from a name you do not recognize, however, forget about it. Make this your motto: Unknown = Spam.
What? Read the entire e-mail. Try to avoid skimming the content if you plan on taking it seriously. Just like any legitimate business offer, it often proves beneficial in the long run to read all of the pertinent material. Make sure you understand what is being offered, what is required of you, and when you are expected to make a decision. In general, e-mails that encourage you to act immediately should be disregarded.
Also look at the e-mail closely. Are there several misspellings? Has the e-mail been forwarded hundreds of times? Is the content garbled or nonsensical? If so, consider the lack of basic professionalism in such a supposedly fabulous offer. If it isn't professional in presentation, then it probably didn't come from a professional.
Why? Finally, consider the motivation behind the offer. Why would Bill Gates (or anyone) give away money to random people for sending e-mails that appear to have no purpose? Does that really seem likely? You may even question the motives of the person who sent you the offer. Does she frequently forward any random e-mail? Does he often send joke e-mails to you? If you just aren't sure of their motives, don't hesitate to ask. Shoot them a quick reply asking them to explain the offer to you. If they can't explain it, perhaps you should both be wary.
We all receive those specious offers that promise something for nothing. When determining whether or not to take them seriously, consider the potential dangers. Often these e-mails are nothing more than chain letters, practical jokes, or even worse, dangerous viruses. Sound reasoning will make you delete them in a hurry and avoid wasting your time.
Incidentally, Bill Gates did not, has not, and probably will never give anyone money for forwarding e-mails. I am sure he can think of better ways to spend his fortune.