The Risks of Chain Letters

When people think about chain letters they generally don't see a problem with them. While almost everyone detests spam few people actually complain about chain letters. Some people even think that chain letters are a great idea.

What Are Chain Letters For?

Quite simply, a commercial chain letter is designed to extort money from you. It may make you believe that by giving some of your money away you will get more back in return, however this is not the real purpose of the chain letter. Whether other people are able to make money is of little interest to the person who started the scam.

The people who make the most money from chain letters are the people who sell the mailing lists to allow the chain letters to continue.

Pyramid Schemes

Almost all chain letters are pyramid schemes. Some of these chain letters try to make you believe that they are legal by telling you that you are purchasing a space on a mailing list, or purchasing a report of some kind. These can actually be very convincing and are easy to fall for. Other chain letters simply instruct you to send money to people on a list and promise that you will receive thousands of dollars in the future.

Chain letters try to convince you that they are a way to get rich quickly. Unfortunately, these do not work as a way to get rich. Like all other get rich quick scams, these are just a con. They promise you a large amount of money for a small investment of time and money. Normally, the reader will be convinced that they will be able to make thousands of dollars just by following the simple instructions in the letter.

Are They Illegal?

Not all chain letters are illegal but any chain letters which ask for money are. These are pyramid schemes and are really nothing more than gambling. Such letters are not an investment like you are told because one weak link in the chain could make the whole network run out. Pyramid schemes or Ponzi schemes have been around for a long time and always collapse eventually.

Although these chain letters are certainly illegal they will try to convince you otherwise. There might even be statements from the United States Post Office confirming that the offer is legal. The USPO never confirms that anything they sent out is legal.

Chain letters which are used to share information generally aren't illegal as long as they aren't considered as spam. Quite a few kids start chain letters just to find out how far it will spread. Although these aren't illegal they can still be very irritating for everyone who receives them.

Should I Participate?

It's a good idea not to reply to chain letters or forward them. If you must then you should use a disposable email address just in case anyone gets hold of your email account.

Any chain letters that require an investment or donation of any sort should be deleted immediately. These are always a con and you will probably lose any money that you invest.

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In 2003, more than 10 million Americans fell victim to identity theft.

Identity theft costs business and individuals $53 billion dollars annually

In 2003, Americans spent 300 million hours resolving issues related to identity theft.

70% of all identity theft cases are perpetrated by a co-worker or employee of an affiliated business.