Fake Amber Alerts Hurt Children: Don’t Forward On Facebook

kids toys 150x150 Fake Amber Alerts Hurt Children: Dont Forward On Facebook

One of my friends posted an Amber Alert on Facebook this morning:

Little girl, 3 years old, picked up by a man driving a gray car, license plate: Quebec 72B 381. Please re-post. Three seconds will not kill you. If it were your child you would want the same support.
How awful. The most awful thing about it? It’s not true: Good that this imaginary baby isn’t in danger, but bad that scammers are tricking people. According to the Urban Legends website, this hoax has been running since at least 2009. I saw other reports that looked similar starting in 2006.

Of course people like my friend, who has kids, want to help others in crisis. Unfortunately, fake posts like this one steal attention from real Amber Alerts, in which real children badly need help. They can also cause people to become skeptical of all similar messages, which means the real ones lose their effectiveness.

Before you re-post any urgent message on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, take a moment to find out whether it’s real, or a hoax. Don’t let your good heart and good intentions be used as fuel for scammers.

Amber Alerts can be authenticated at the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. You should also be able to google the license plate number listed in the message and see if you get hits for a fake.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.