I still occasionally get dishonest political emails from a couple of very conservative acquaintances. I decided several years ago to not let emails go unchallenged that contain false or misleading information. I don’t respond to emails that are simply jokes or cartoons that are insulting, juvenile or in bad taste. But if an email makes factual claims and is simply wrong, it is propaganda, a hoax or a scam and deserves rebuttal. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Otherwise, these things spread like wildfire and influence gullible people.
My favorite resource for checking the accuracy of emails is snopes.com. Other resources are, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.org, TruthOrFiction.com, UrbanLegends.com, and Hoax-Slayer.com. You can also go to the website of the agency or quoted source to check. False emails often give incorrect information and claim a legitimate source.
I check all emails before forwarding them. It’s embarrassing to forward an email you think is accurate and find out it’s false because you have then just become part of the problem. But there are some red flags to look for, and your “nonsense nose” gets more sensitive and accurate with experience. Scare tactics are probably the most universal sign. If an email is a warning of dire consequences, especially if it claims “secret” information or a conspiracy to hide information from you, beware. If an email is “selling” an idea or product, beware. If an email sounds too good to believe or too bad to believe, beware. If an email sounds like a political talk show, beware. If email information is difficult to verify (vague source, location, time, etc.), beware.
The main point is don’t pass on unverified information. If you can’t check it out, don’t send it on.