If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I often caution people about various scams and practical jokes in Second Life.
New users, in particular, should be wary of accepting gifts from strangers. One person of my acquaintance accepted a "soft drink dispenser" item that she was told could earn her money when people bought soft drinks from it. When she rezzed it, it produced a message saying it wanted to take $L from her account. Not being the sort to read her notices carefully, she clicked "Accept," and the object proceeded to take all the money out of her account!
But, on the other hand, there are lots of helpful and generous people in Second Life who are quick to pass out things to newcomers that are actually useful. Yesterday at Social Island, I tried to help a newcomer solve an animation problem by giving him an undeformer tool in the shape of a red rose. He refused it, politely, saying that he was reluctant to accept things from strangers.
How is one to strike a proper balance between caution and paranoia?
Accepting objects can, in fact, be risky...especially if the object is sent to you unasked for by some avatar you have not seen or spoken to. Most of them are OK, but they can, like my acquaintance's demonic soda machine, be malicious.
Accepting a URL can also lead to trouble. Some URLs are phishing scams, just like the phishing attempts you get via email. They lead to sites that look legitimate, but try to get you to enter your user name and password. Be sure the website you're on is secure (https, not http) and that the domain is secondlife.com, not something close like sec0ndlife.ru
But accepting a landmark, or a notecard, is almost always safe. The note can contain embedded objects, of course, but you don't have to rez them or use them. As long as they stay inside the notecard, or inside your inventory, they are harmless. (Thus, you can pretty much always click Accept in response to an offer...just be careful about actually rezzing the "gift.")
I've taken to handing out notecards to every newcomer I run across. My standard handout is a long list of freebie stores, and helpful places like Caledon Oxbridge University.
Just as in Real Life, a good touchstone is, "if it sounds too good to be true...it probably is!" Offers of easy money or "free $L" should always be suspect.
If you have talked with someone for a while, you'll get a sense of them. If they seem hinky or "off," be cautious. But if they feel OK, it's probably OK to accept items from them. If they have only been in SL a few days, they could be an alt created just to cause trouble -- but if they have been in SL for several years, they're more likely to want to preserve their good name.
So, be careful out there...but also keep yourself at least a little open to the good that's in most people, both in Second Life and out of it.