Dear PNW News Digest Readers,
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a safe, festive celebration of the New Year!
Over the past few days, we've received several reports of fraudsters targeting local churches with email phishing schemes. For example, just before Christmas, I received a message from a United Methodist who had received requests from persons pretending to be two different pastors they knew asking that they purchase gift cards for them. And today, we received a report from a church that was tricked into rerouting an employee's auto-deposited paycheck into the debit card account of an unscrupulous person.
While many fraudulent schemes are easy enough to see, some of these fraudsters are quite devious, setting up email accounts that look reasonably like one your pastor or co-worker (or even your bishop) might use. To make matters worse, a fraudulent request might come from a trusted account that has been hacked or spoofed. You'll find more information about these schemes and how to spot them in this article.
Please continue to be vigilant and skeptical of any financial requests you receive online, especially through email or a direct message on social media. Before you send money or pick up some gifts cards, consider calling the person or organization (at a number you have or can get from a reliable source) to confirm that it is real.
Organizations like churches should think hard about their policies in this area and how they will communicate them regularly with staff and parishioners. It's important for those you serve to know how you will make financial requests, and equally, how you won't.
Director of Communications, Young People's Ministries