The Danger of Forwards and Chain Letter E-mails

Canada
October 26, 2007 12:19am CST
Since becoming a member on Mylot I gave my personal e-mail address to a few friends that I would like to chat with in a less public forum. On two separate occasions those friends added my e-mail address to 'forwards' and chain letters they were on and it is of concern to me. Within a few days my mailbox was inundated with forwards from a long list of people I do not know. Then someone within that forward picks my address and begins sending 'stuff' to me and before long my mailbox is cluttered with e-mails and I find it very frustrating because it keeps mushrooming out of control. The second thing that disturbs me about this is how many people do this without the recipients request...or consent. It seems rather disrespectful to me...the least the people who send these forwards could do is at least ASK rather than assuming it is OK. I am a self-employed writer and cannot afford to have my mailbox cluttered with unsolicited information from people I do not know. I was wondering if any of you have had that occur and how you feel about it? In my view when you offer your e-mail address to someone there is a measure of trust involved. If they add your address to their forwards without consent...no matter how well meaning their intentions are your address is then floating out in Cyberspace without knowing who is getting and where they might send it. My husband David is a computer specialist and has found this practice to be somewhat dangerous. This is what viruses do. It forwards from the address book. They are the most dangerous when first released as a lot of virus checkers do not recognize them. If David gets a forward from anywhere he never opens it and blocks the sender. You cannot be too safe in today's computer world. He has had clients dismiss this idea because they say they have their virus checkers on. Then they call him wailing that they picked up a virus and have no idea why or how. Perhaps they had been on someone's forward lists too. I would appreciate having some respectful dialog about this because I would like to avoid this happening to me again...and possibly prevent any of you finding yourself in a similar circumstance. Your views are always welcome...whether you agree or not...after all this is what we do...we share perspectives! What do you think about forwards and chain letters! Do you accept or reject them...and why? Best regards to all, Raia
7 people like this
11 responses
@alamode (3073)
• United States
26 Oct 07
I would like to apologize for sending the boat pictures... I was so excited by them that I hit 'send' for my whole address book. I have moved your address into my customer file, where it will stay separated from my friends, or I can delete it if you'd rather.
3 people like this
• Canada
26 Oct 07
Hi Alamode... Thank you for your apology...it is accepted and understood. Your approach is not unlike others who have inadvertently added my address to a long list of others. It is a common theme...and admittedly it is an expedient way to send a mass message out. The problem I have with it is that private e-mails are sent to people I do not know and then they take it and add it to their forwards and the whole thing mushrooms out of control. That is why I decided to give members a high five so that they can at least ask a recipient if they want to be included in forwards or mass e-mail posts. To me it is all about honoring trust and thinking about the ripple effect of choices made. I know you would never knowingly give my e-mail to a spammer...but it can happen when private e-mails float around in Cyberspace. So thank you for keeping my address to yourself. I offered the exchange because I value the connection we've developed and would still love to meet sometime next year if we can arrange it. So do I want you to delete my address...no unless you choose to. Do I want to be included in randomized mail-outs...no thanks. So if you want to send me photos or chat at that address I'd be happy to do so anytime. I love receiving photos from valued on-line friends. They have to be sent as a separate attachment and not in the body of the e-mail because the virus protectors David has will not allow them through if not in an attachment. So yes, by all means keep in touch...and thanks for your acceptance and accountability on this...much appreciated. Raia
1 person likes this
@sophylline (1042)
• Philippines
27 Oct 07
Hi Raia, First of all, I must declare that we have already exchanged e-mail addresses. I do not give out mine to anyone and most especially to strangers. But I have made one exception and I have made friends in a wide forum such as here in mylot. And I have given my e-mail to you Raia, because I know I can trust you and have confidence in you. Though I was a bit hesitant. One can only think, one can never know and especially the friendship has blossomed through the internet. So I have my hesitations and fear. So, far I know I am safe with YOU, and give you back the respect that I know you have the right to. I am the same way, in giving out something that was yours it is just right that you are to ask permission whatever you may decide to do with it. So, rest assured Raia, that whatever I plan on doing with your e-mail address I will first ASK if it is okay. It is good that you have made this post so, that everyone who will read this will be aware. I never thought that would happen. And now it did to you. So, I hope even with out intending any harm, people may learn that things like this could happen. Computers are very fragile, it could breakdown by a single virus. I'm sorry Raia this has happened to you but you did the right thing posting with this discussion so that people will have their eyes opened and can guard themselves and maybe initiate to ask permission first however they think harmless. Oh by the way, I have re sent another mail to you. I'm sorry I have been a little busy recently. Warm regards to you
2 people like this
• Canada
27 Oct 07
Hello my friend.. I know that it was a bit of a reach for you to trust me with your e-mail address and I value your trust immensely. Yes, you are right that I will never betray it. Our work as life coaches, our moral code and spiritual values includes a deep respect for maintaining privacy and confidentiality. I also feel that my trust will not be betrayed by you either or I would not have suggested that we exchange addresses. Out of all the thousands of discussions and responses I've shared here there have been only a very small few that I asked to chat beyond this forum. Thanks for your concern about what happened...I know the people involved were not doing it out of any malicious intent. The forwards were positive, upbeat and informative and I guess they just ASSUMED I'd be interested. I contacted both parties and one apologized and it is fine. I haven't heard back from the other one yet...and I am not even sure how she got the address because I did not give her mine. Not to worry it is fine now...but I did feel a sense of responsibility to let others know it is not a good idea to get involved with forwards...and certainly not without consent. So I look forward to reading your resend. You did get my response right? I will look for yours and we will keep in touch. As I mentioned anytime you send photos I will receive them as an attachment. Anyway, enjoy the weekend..and we'll keep in touch. Love, light and blessings to you and your family, Raia
2 people like this
• Philippines
27 Oct 07
Oh yes, I did receive your response. And know that you did not get my pics. I have re sent my pics and attached them with my message to you. Though I did think I had some problems sending, I think Yahoo had some technical problems because they showed some notice. And I thought to forward this mail that I already sent to you. So, with my sent records or file, I have sent you two identical mails. Just to make sure you get them. So, I am not sure if you really did, please inform me, so I can send them again if you did not. it's great keeping in touch with you. Hugs and blessings
2 people like this
• Canada
27 Oct 07
Hi again.. I haven't checked yet...been busy trying to spend a little more time on Mylot. I commented on our butterfly chat...and another topic. I will get over there whenever I have time because I value your regular participation here. I look forward to seeing your photos and will let you know if they arrive...or not. Thanks for trying again. Sharing photos is so much fun..and much safer than doing it here. A new friend Bay posted a discussion that someone took photos of her and her husband and created an Avatar of them. Hearing that has made me wonder if I should take the ones off of David and I. I always think that we an handle anything that comes along...and we do...but as Mom always said you don't want 'borrow trouble' either. That is just one of the many reasons I reached out to you and thought we could share more personal things within an on-line friendship than what is possible here..with less risk. So anyhow, I will be signing off soon..but we will keep in touch. Cheers, Raia
1 person likes this
@ailema4ever (2675)
• Finland
26 Oct 07
Gee, this is crazy!!! I don't think I've ever been sent too many forwards or chain letters. If someone who doesn't know me well asks for my email addy, usually I give him/her my third email addy, not my primary ones. If they prove to be okay (they are not the types that only send forwards or chain letters), then I'll let them know my primary addy. Funny thing is that I put my blog email addy in my blog but I've been doing fine so far. I agree with what you said, though...that it's rather disrespectful to send so many forwards and chain letters. Plus if people are going to do it, I'd prefer they do it in BCC, so other people can't see your email addy. That's what I'll do if I'm going to send something to many people. Gladly not many people send me those things, except the VERY good forwards.
• Canada
27 Oct 07
Yes, it is a little hair raising to think about how easy it is for things to balloon out of control in what seems to be innocent ways. It sounds as though you have things under control at your end. Although I just logged on and read Aussie's latest response and you might want to read it and see what you think about adding your address in your blog. Those who are considerate enough to use the BCC method have some 'smarts' about not passing friends addresses along. Forwards aren't a problem if you know the people and appreciate receiving what they send. My issue is with those who just ASSUME people want what they are sending without asking first. Hope you are enjoying your weekend. The weather here has been wonderful, a lovely long fall without any snow so far. David is cleaning up the yard as I continue to re-hab my knee. Take care...good sharing as always, Raia
• Finland
27 Oct 07
Hi, Raia! Yeah, I read Aussie's response just now. Well, my blogger friends have also written down their email addresses in their blogs and they've been doing fine, so I guess I'll just keep my fingers crossed he he he... Yes, you're right about forwards, as long as we know the people and we like getting what they send. Glad to hear about the weather there. ;-D It was SO windy here today he he he...Yup, hope your knee keeps on getting better and better! ;D Take care to you too!!! AMEL
1 person likes this
• Canada
27 Oct 07
The address on my Blog is not linked to the same one where I have my business and personal addresses. So I think things are fine there. I am of the same mind you are...I refuse to live in fear-based thinking...but a healthy precautionary approach. From the sound of it you and your friends appear to be looking out for each other...and will continue to do so. Thanks for your concern and well wishes around my knee...you can continue to send those thoughts and prayers my way...I know how much that works! So enjoy the windy weather...have fun...and we'll be chatting soon...we always do! Raia
• United States
26 Oct 07
Hi Raia, I never really thought about this til just recently, and I too have shared my email with a few people here on myLot for a more private corespondence. Luckily I have not had any spam occurances from this, but I have been careful by using the BCC option when forwarding something to friends. That way, no one can see the email address of those you have forwarded it onto. I dont really like nor believe in these internet "chain letters". Even though a trusted and respsected friend that I know off the internet sent it to me, I will delete it. They are no more effective than the ones you used to get in the snail mail! lol So far the use of BCC seems to keep the spam down in my inbox. Ive noticed other friends of mine doing this as well, but not all of them. What Im not sure of now, is if the email will still be supplied in the body of the email. I dont know how to stop that. You know as it goes from person to person, a whole list of who they got it from, and who they got it from etc, is in the body before you get to the actual contents of the email. Im thinking the BCC keeps this from happening. I think more people should do this when forwarding things on. Im going to send out a friendly email to all my friends requesting they use this option when forwarding emails to multiple addresses. I can certainly understand how this would be upsetting or frustrating to someone. Bay xx
2 people like this
• Canada
26 Oct 07
Hi Bay... Thanks for sharing your experiences with this. Your system of using the 'copy to' system is a safer alternative. However, I would feel safe in saying that there are many out there who use forwards because it is easier and faster method. I just find the whole idea of adding someone's e-mail to ANYTHING without asking the recipient is still rather disrespectful...but that is just my perspective. Maybe it is the work my hubby David and I do. We work as life coaches and group leaders and respecting confidentiality is key to our code of ethics and spiritual beliefs. To me it is no different on line than in real life...so that is the real issue for me here. Also I do not like the way these forwards balloon out of control. Like you I have reached out to a few members and exchanged other addresses. So far it has only happened twice but it is two too many. I couldn't help but wonder how others felt about it and I value your input. Life is all about choices, consequences and their ripple effect. My mind always runs along those lines and my approach is to treat others the way I'd like to be treated and take responsibility for letting them know when they don't. Overall it works out in the end as self-accountable living usually does!LOL Anyhow, thanks for being a friend...and dropping by. I commented on a couple of your topics as well and look forward to more exchanges as we go along. Best regards, Raia
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Oct 07
Your right about that Raia, once is too many. I feel this same way about my phone number and my friends phone numbers. I dont pass that out, ever. If someone calls me and says do you have so and so's number, I say I dont. Even if we both know this person and I know they do know them, I still dont pass it along. Its not mine to be handing out. This seems no different for email addresses. So when you forward something along like that, its exactly what your doing. Boy this internet sure turned into a risky business didnt it? lol Blessings, Bay xx
2 people like this
• Canada
27 Oct 07
Yes it has...I was rather shocked to hear what happened to you. It is hard to imagine why someone would be so brazen to take images of you and your hubby and post them as THEIR Avatar. That was really shocking to me. After reading that I am tempted to delete the images I have posted in the last couple of months because it does make me wonder what some less than ethical person might do with them. It does seem a shame that we cannot post images so friends can have a photo of who they are talking to. Always someone looking out for themselves rather than the greater good of the all. I respect the way you handle privacy concerns for your friends and I am sure they do to. I guess all we can do is uphold our value system and do our best to protect ourselves from those who are on a different wavelength. So long for now...nice for you to come back. Cheers, Raia
1 person likes this
@kalav56 (11502)
• India
26 Oct 07
This has happened to me twice earlier. One was from an erstwhile student of mine and I promptly sent her a letter stating categorically , that she ought not to send me unwanted forwards.I am new to the place and was terribly scared of the comp being infected by a virus on account of stupid forwards. Mails ceased. In the second case I got a forward [my husband had asked me to check a mail from his client's friend . It was an attachment too and it was a load of rubbish saying that some misfortune would befall me if I did not forward it to ten people.To add insult to injury it quoted true instances .It annoyed us no end and I deleted that rubbish. That was this friend's second letter to him and he decided to have nothing to do with him thereon. We have learnt a lesson in college''Trust begets trustworthiness'' and I always believed this and acted accordingly. Thankfully. this has not failed me for a greater percentage of my life. However, as I told you earlier, I am in a city now, that teaches me lessons. One bitter lesson I have learnt is 'Trust begets cheating, and'trust begets exploitation.' I commend your wisdom in starting this discussion in this forum because, now you can pick the chaff from the grain- if people address issues they are your genuine friends . If they evade it, and wait for you to make the first move then it means that their intentions are not totally genuine.
2 people like this
@kalav56 (11502)
• India
26 Oct 07
Generally, all mails of dubious content are seen in my BULK FOLDER and also SPAM folder and I diligently delete these as soon as I open my mail. Recently, there seems to be a clutter and I also get plenty of spam mails. I have also enrolled myself in a few sites and this may be the cause. In policy, I just delete them.
2 people like this
• Canada
26 Oct 07
Hi Kalav56.. . Your experiences with your student show how short sited people and unthinking people can be. The chain letters I received were more encouraging and even promised bonuses if they were forwarded to 10 people...more blessings, more friends, more abundance..blah, blah, blah. It sounds that we share another parallel in our mindsets. From my viewpoint 'luck' and some setbacks result from positive or faulty choice making. So I similarly deleted them and didn't give the chain letter another thought. My sense of these forwards is that most of them are not sent with malicious intent. People do not think about the cause and effect of their choices or how they may impact on others. They enjoy participating and think someone else they meet will as well. I am a big believer in respecting people's boundaries both on line and in real life. Those lines appear to blur for some on the internet..and this is the main reason I decided to post this topic. Thank you for your acknowledgment about it...after having it happen a second time I felt it was time to discuss it and hopefully heighten awareness a little. It is regretful that you are finding the city begets exploitation. I have had to develop greater discernment in dealing with people. I refuse to view everyone with a suspicious eye because I love people and enjoy interacting with them. However I am less inclined to open myself the way I used to. As you aptly observed in our conversation about friendships...I have been hurt a few times by those who took advantage of what David and I offered in an unconditionally supportive way. However, those are few and far between and I refuse to let a few taint it for the many. So thanks again for the valid perceptions you have offered here. I enjoy sharing ideas with you and your presence on Mylot is some I value. Rest assured my friend, your address is safe with me...and I do value your trust. Warm regards, Raia
1 person likes this
@ssh123 (31100)
• India
26 Oct 07
Yes, taking friends and known acquitances email address have become common nowadays. One should avoid giving such email addressed to others. I too have received the chain letters and some unsolicited mails, I do not know how they placed hands on it. Probably, I must have become a member in number of sites, some sites have closed down and they must have sold our email addressed in bulk to a new company. This is how our email ids are spread length and breadth. It is very simple, you can change the i.d. immediately and inform those sites which are important for you. This is only one can prevent spam mails.
2 people like this
• Canada
26 Oct 07
Since becoming a member here I have 'broken' a few of my own rules. I have reached out to some on-line friends and there have only been two that have included me in their forwards and chain letters. The information they were sending is all positive, upbeat and 'concerned planetary citizen' type information...but still unsolicited. In my husband's work in the computer field he has seen viruses filter through the address book and that is of concern as well. The other reason I posted this was to remind people to work on the honor system and not abuse the trust that people offer when giving them an address. My approach to exchanges on the internet is the same as in person. It is my goal to walk my walk and treat others as I would like to be treated. To a large degree it has worked out well. People did not add me to forwards because they were intending harm...it was just a lack of forethought or misunderstanding about the possible repercussions. Your idea of changing I.D.'s if it does become problematic is a good one. Your input is appreciated. Best regards, Rai
2 people like this
• United States
23 Nov 07
First, Raia, I'd like to publicly apologize for that email about Stumble Upon that you received from me. That was an accident. I only checked 11 people on my entire contact list of hundreds. Turns out everyone got it, including me at my other email addresses. For that imposition, I am really sorry. Now, about forwarding emails properly. If people would simply learn how to use email correctly, this would not be a problem for anyone. When forwarding an email the first thing one should do is delete all the email addresses at the top of the forwarded text, including the person it came from. Next, one should put their OWN email address in the "To" line. Finally, one should use the BCC line for all the email addresses they wish to forward to. BBC stands for "blind carbon copy." This shows the receiver their own email address only as the "To" person, and only the sender as the "From" person. I hope you can get all that spam blocked, Raia. It is a pain in the butt. Ciao4now, Shannon
• Canada
23 Nov 07
Hi friend... Thanks for the apology...I respect that. It is fine...things like this happen...and that is why I now state that I DO NOT want to be put one ANYONE'S forward...with or without the BCC line or have my address given out with my written consent. Cyberspace courtesy is something I know you have and this is just a glitch that I understand and accept. Not to worry David has our systems protected up the Yazoo..so things are fine here. Take care, try not to work too hard and take care of yourself in the process...Best regards as always, Raia
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Nov 07
And I shall respect your wishes. Besides, forwarding isn't something I do much of. I don't mind receiving them, most of what I get is from my mom and a very few close friends. Usually either funny or informative, and I am also very picky about the ones I resend, which are few and far between. At least your readers will know how to do it properly to protect their contacts from spam, lol. Sorry about misunderstanding the point of your discussion. I don't think I have forwarded you anything in the past, but I will be sure not to. I try not to abuse email priviledges, that you are right about. I also learned a lesson with using an onsite feature to gather emails from my address book: don't do it the lazy way anymore, go to my email in another tab and choose the people individually as I had always done before. OY! I appreciate your understanding. I would hate to lose a good friend over an accident. Hopefully I will have a set schedule soon and we can continue our conversation...if we even remember what it was by then, hahahaha. No matter, we'll find something to talk about, yes? Ciao4now & sending you a cyber hug because I can! =D Shannon
1 person likes this
• Canada
25 Nov 07
Hi again, First up it would take more than a little glitch like that to lose me as a friend...so that is not even a consideration. I like you, respect you and appreciate what I have come to know of you during the six months I've been here...and more so after chatting on the phone. I know we will always have a lot to talk about...personally, professionally, spiritually, politically...I doubt if that will ever be a concern. No you did not ever send me forwards and even the one you did send me wasn't a problem. I was just unclear what you wanted me to do with it or about it. So it is all cleared up...and it wasn't a big deal to me anyway. This discussion was posted awhile back...and had nothing to do with this incident. Please put it behind us...and we'll continue building the bond we have. I am game for that if you are. (As your hectic schedule permits of course!) Smiles! Take care and take some me-time..breathe deeply and say ahhhhhhhh because everything is kewl! Hugs and warm, caring regards, Raia
@brendakaya (2335)
• United States
29 Oct 07
I understand what you're saying. I have people sending me stuff like that, all the time. I have been giving out email addresses that I don't mind them clogging up lately. That way, the more important ones, aren't full of krap. lol I usually just ignore the stuff, unless they are from someone that I know closely, and sometimes they don't interest me, either.
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Oct 07
Hi again...nice of you to stop by. I think the whole question about sending 'stuff like that' to anyone without their consent it more about a lack of awareness than it is malicious intent. However, if people paused for a moment and realized that a person's willingness to trust enough to give them a private e-mail...especially from a discussion forum contact that it should not be passed out to ANYONE without checking in to the recipient first. What I dislike about it is the fact that our addresses show up within a long list...that often keeps getting longer with every one received. Then I noticed that they 'pluck' a name out and I have received 'stuff' from someone that I have never heard of. I guess the big issue here is awareness and accountability...and in real life. But of course that is what I do for a living...helping people develop more of that...and so I take issue when trust is broken in any area of life. Anyway, no big deal I nipped it in the bud (I hope) and if I didn't I'll just change my address and be more discerning next time. Lessons learned...so it is all good! LOL Good to chat...we will again.. Raia
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Oct 07
Thank you. Yes, I agree. Take care.
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Oct 07
You are welcome...and you too!! Raia
@lucky_witch (2711)
• Philippines
30 Oct 07
Yes I also feel the same. When I receive mails from the people I dont know, I just dont open them and directly considered it spam. In regards with the forwarded mails, i dont erase them if it came from the family members, I know that they just want to share something to me and has no intention or knowledge about the virus. But thank you for letting us know about it.
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Oct 07
You are welcome...by and large I know people who add friends to their forwards assume that others will be interested in the content. My issue is that there is a breach of trust especially when the address was given from a discussion forum. When any of us are willing to do that they are taking a chance...and even when there is no malicious intent it is, in my view rather inconsiderate to not ask before adding them to any forward list. However, family members are a different story. At least you probably have some idea who the long list includes...and if not...well it could be still be risky. I had people pull my name off a forward list and begin sending me a whole batch from a group I had never heard off. So accountability, awareness and considering the ripple effect of any choice are all part of my moral compass. To me it is no different on line. So good to have you back...always a pleasure to chat with you. Best regards, Raia
• United States
28 Oct 07
I have never given my personal email address to anyone on a forum. I have always been careful who I give it to, ususually it is someone I know personally not a cyber friend.
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Oct 07
Hi again... Good to hear from you being that we haven't chatted in awhile. I can appreciate your guardedness and even with those who send me forwards with the best of intentions I do not regret opening myself up to them by giving them another way to reach me. Overall it is working out well. Two of the woman and I have chatted on the phone and I look forward to meeting them some day if at all possible. I use discretion...but overall I go by a sense of my intuitive knowing. Those who added my name to forwards did it without any intent to harm. When the information is positive, or people are in need there is a natural inclination to share it with like minded others. So this discussion was not meant to dissuade those who would like to connect beyond any discussion forum but just to raise awareness to ask...rather than assume the information is wanted or needed. Hope all is well with you. Things are going good here. Take care.. Raia
@anniepa (27240)
• United States
27 Oct 07
This is a great discussion, Raia. I also get quite a few of those forwards, usually with jokes or inspirational quotes or poems. I never really looked at it in the way you pointed out but I'm sure it does explain alot of the spam I get. I'm also sure nobody does it maliciously. I've forwarded some of the emails myself to friends and I won't do that anymore because I honestly wasn't thinking. Thanks so much for the heads-up! Annie
1 person likes this
• Canada
27 Oct 07
Hi Annie... Thanks for your positive feedback about the topic. My views on the forwards are akin to yours in that the people who sent me the forwards did it with the best of intentions. However, the possible repercussions, lack of forethought and 'ballooning' effect of them does have a ripple effect that many are not aware of. I wasn't sure how people would respond to it...but overall the discussion has been well received. Glad it works for you too! Take care... Raia