Saturday, October 25th, 2014

About that chain email you got … we check those, too

PolitiFact fact-checking doesn't just cover politicians. We also put chain emails to the Truth-O-Meter.
PolitiFact fact-checking doesn't just cover politicians. We also put chain emails to the Truth-O-Meter.

Although we at PolitiFact spend most of our time fact-checking candidates, elected officials, political parties and other groups, faceless chain emails also get put to the Truth-O-Meter. And it seems that a disproportionate number of those are about politicians and new laws.

Most recently, PolitiFact Texas checked a claim in an email that has been circulating since at least September 2010 about a 2008 Dallas ordinance requiring drivers pulled over by law enforcement to provide proof of insurance. If drivers don't have it, they risk having their car towed and impounded.

"Shortly after the 'no insurance' ordinance was passed," says the chain email, the Dallas impound lots began to fill up. They were full after only nine days, the email says, and more than 80 percent of the impounded cars were driven by illegal immigrants.

We rated this claim False. Although it's true that Dallas has an ordinance that has led to cars getting impounded, we found no evidence supporting the email's main claim that about 80 percent of the cars initially impounded belonged to illegal residents. There's no factual way to reach that figure because Dallas authorities don't usually check the legal residency status of motorists.

See a claim — in an email or otherwise — that you think needs checking? Send it to us at politifact@statesman.com.