The following procedure was reportedly written by a System Administrator for a corporate computer system. It is an excellent message that ABSOLUTELY applies to ALL of us who send e-mails. Please read the introduction below, even if you’re sure you already follow proper procedures.

Do you really know how to forward e-mails? 50% of us do; 50% of us DO NOT.

Do you wonder why you get viruses or junk mail? Do you hate it? Here is how it happens: Every time you forward an e-mail, there is information left over from the people who received the message before you, namely their e-mail addresses and names. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds, and builds, and builds. 

Now, all it takes to get a virus is if any of these addresses has a virus, it can now be distributed to everyone receiving and opening the e-mail. Additionally, the computer can send that same virus to every E-mail address that is in your Address Book. In addition, some sap can take all of those addresses and sell them to a Spammer or just send junk mail to each of them, in the hopes that you will go to a specific web site and he will then make five cents for each hit. That’s right; all of that inconvenience is over a nickel! How do you stop it? Well, there are several easy steps but they do require discipline… 

Try the following if you haven’t done it before:

(1) When you forward an e-mail, DELETE all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message (at the top). That’s right, DELETE them. You MUST click the ‘Forward’ button first and then you will have full editing capabilities against the body and headers of the message. If you don’t click on ‘Forward’ first, you won’t be able to edit the message at all. Highlight them (Click and hold your mouse button down and drag over whatever you want to remove, then press the ‘delete’ key or the ‘enter’ key) and delete all addresses received with your mail, backspace them, cut them, whatever it is you know how to do. It only takes a second. 

You can also put ( ) around all the E-mail addresses, and it will become a ‘Blind Carbon Copy.’ No one else can see who you’ve sent the e-mail to.

(2) Whenever you send an e-mail to more than one person, do NOT use the To: or Cc: fields for adding e-mail addresses. Always use the BCC: (Blind Carbon Copy) field for listing the e-mail addresses. This is the way the people you send it to will only see their own e-mail address. If you don’t see the BCC: option, click on where it says To: and your address list will appear. Highlight the address and choose BCC: and that’s it. It’s that easy. When you send to BCC: your message will automatically say ‘Undisclosed Recipients in the ‘TO:’ Address field of the people who receive it.

(3) Remove any ‘FW:’ in the subject line. You can re-name the subject if you wish or even fix the spelling. Make it look as if you are the originator of the message.

(4) ALWAYS hit your Forward button from the actual e-mail you are reading. Ever get those emails where you have to open 10 different Forwards, before you can read the one page that actually has the information on it? By forwarding from the actual page you wish someone to view, you stop them from having to open the many e-mails just to see what you sent. You will also NOT be sending other peoples E-mail addresses along. This is really important.

(5) Have you ever gotten an email that is a petition? It states a position! And asks you to add your name and address and to forward it to 10 or 15 people or your entire address book. The email can be forwarded on and on and can collect thousands of names and email addresses. 

A FACT: A completed petition is actually worth a couple of bucks to a professional spammer because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein. DO NOT put your email address on any petition. If you want to support the petition, Copy, Edit and Send it as your own personal letter to the intended recipient. Your position may carry more weight as a personal letter than a laundry list of names and email addresses on a petition. And don’t believe the ones that say that the email is being traced, it just isn’t so!

Some of the other emails to delete and not forward are:

1. The one that says something like, ‘Send this email to 10 people and you’ll see something great run across your screen.’ Or sometimes they’ll just tease you by saying ‘something really cute will happen.’ IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN! (We are still seeing some of the same emails that we circulated 10 years ago!)

2. Don’t let the bad luck ones suck you in or scare you either (please help so and so); these should automatically get trashed if you don’t know the individual personally.

3. Before you forward an ‘Amber Alert’, or a ‘Virus Alert’, or some of the other emails floating around nowadays, check them out before you forward them. Most of them are junk mail that has been circling the net for YEARS! Just about everything you receive in an email that is in question can be checked out at Snopes. Just go to www.snopes.com    

It’s really easy to find out if it’s real or not. If it’s not, we shouldn’t pass it on. 

And Dr. Moffat’s personal pet peeve:  

Include your First and Last Name with each email (a phone number is nice as well just in case). 

Currently I get about 45 serious emails to answer each day and about 240 spam emails. It just annoys the heck out of me to take 5 minutes or more to look up the email address and hope that I can connect it with the name of my client so that I can look up their record. If that doesn’t work, I have to look back into the appointment book, daily logs, and stack of records I haven’t processed yet (or the other stack that I haven’t filed) hoping it’s there. 

It would make my life SO much easier if any of you writing me did not delete the other questions and answers under the original email until we have that issue completed. My time is important and I also value yours. I love my husband and love spending time with him. And frankly, my clients are so important to me that I do take the time that it takes to get the job done for them.

So please, in the future, let’s stop the junk mail and the viruses.