As I often do, I received an e-mail today from a well-meaning soul warning me about a particularly dangerous internet virus. As an act of Everyday Stewardship I DON”T immediately pass them along to anyone else. I first verify their accuracy.
I do this for as a matter of personal, relationship and collective integrity.
On the level of integrity with myself (personal integrity), only passing along information I have done my best to verify the credibility of is partly about self-respect. I don’t like myself when I am irresponsible.
On the level of relationship integrity, people’s lives are hectic and stressful enough without being sent unnecessary causes for concern. Forward to others these kinds of warnings before making certain they are accurate is asking those we care about to spend unnecessary time and experience unneeded stress.
On the level of collective integrity, all of us are already bathed in a culture of fear. Passing along items such as these before verifying them adds a totally unnecessary layer of fear to this climate. I believe this is a disservice to collective highest good. That is what makes this an opportunity to fulfill our roles as Everyday Stewards.
Verification of internet scams is simple to do, takes only a moment, and is, I believe, a matter of integrity and social responsibility in the Internet age. Verification involves a quick visit to one of the many reputable scam-monitoring websites.
I most commonly start my research on either the Snopes website (www.snopes.com) or the Scam Busters website (www.scambusters.org). I simply enter the name of the alert and, voila, information comes up about whether that item is true, partly true or a lie. (You can find additional scam monitoring sites by Googling “internet scams” and “internet fraud.” You can also simply Google the name of the alert item and then add the word “hoax” or “scam.”)
As an act of Everyday Stewardship, check all alerts to see if they are hoaxes before forwarding them to those you care about. Just because the person forwarded an alert to you is well-intended don’t blindly assume that that this means they have done their homework before forwarding the alert. Check yourself!
The same goes for supposed “news stories,” “commentaries” or “secret information,” especially items allegedly written by people whose credibility you trust, or forwarded to you by someone you trust. Agreeing or disagreeing with the information you receive does not always mean that it is true or accurate. This is a matter of discernment.
For more about discernment and becoming a better Everyday Steward, read my book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves Us All.