What is a hoax email? Simply put, one that is a fake, counterfeit or a forgery. The forged part is that of the sender's identity and his or her intention. The email may appear to have come from a legitimate source - perhaps your bank, PayPal or even eBay. Even the actual name of the sender may look genuine and impressive (such as firstname.lastname@example.org).
The text of the email may look exactly like that on your own bank's (or other source's) real, official, site. The logos will look the same. Even the wording may appear the same.
They may even exhort you to "be careful regarding your online security and ensure you are dealing with a trusted source". these guys are clever, very clever.
The email may send you to a hoax website or web page. Again, this may look wholesome and perfectly genuine, although on closer inspection, the address bar will show that the site in question has an address different from that of your own bank (or other institution). This is the point where you will be asked for your personal information - date of birth perhaps. Name, address, login name or password. You must not give these details.
Any reputable institution would never ask for these details by email. They would, if they were writing to you at all, call you by name (not "Dear customer") and they would always have security measures in place to protect you from fraudulent activity such as a secure web page - look for the "https" in the address name or the "padlock symbol" at the bottom of the web page.
Simple emails like these can be sent to millions of people at once, making it easy for the criminals to pocket many millions of dollars of cash.
By Dr. Mark Clayson