Received from a friend.

Do you find that you get unsolicited email? I am talking about those emails (called phishing emails) that say something about a system upgrade (usually at some or other bank - overseas banks most of the time, but occasionally for local banks) asking you to update your user name and password or PIN code for your internet banking. Sometimes you get an email from some or other "prince" in Africa somewhere who is asking you to help him transfer money from his country, for which he will pay you a commission (the Nigerian 419 Scam). Other emails you might get offer you various products, from Viagra to Rolex watches.

Ever wonder how these people get your email address? Perhaps you are wondering how I got your email address?

Well, these chain-mails, petitions, virus warnings, free giveaway offers, etc are all methods that syndicates and criminals use for collecting your email address and for identity theft.

Firstly, any petition in electronic form (such as this one) is NOT LEGALLY VALID. For a petition to be legally valid it must be in hardcopy (paper) format with the full details and SIGNATURE of every petitioner on it. Each page must be numbered and certified by a commissioner of oaths. This will not be possible sending it around from email box to email box.

The more sensational the email is, the faster it normally spreads. Always check out the claim made in an email you receive. If there is a claim of a giveaway, got to the company website and check for the details there. There was recently an email going around claiming that you will get free beer from SAB if you forward the email to all of your friends. Go check the SAB website and you will see there is a warning about this hoax.

There are three good resources available on the internet for checking "suspicious" emails:

Do yourself a favour and take 2mins to read the info and links at