We’ve seen notices like the one I’ll quote below from both our bishops now and it’s just a matter of time before someone tries it from some other clergy you might know…
So to be clear, no one from the church, synod, or diocese will reach out to you by email asking for help and money or asking for a financial favor. See Bishop Greg’s email below for tips on recognizing these “Phishing” scams.
When in doubt, check the email address to ensure the address – not just the name – matches your contact records. Always check with the alleged sender by phone or text message if you are unsure. Don’t respond to these emails or open any attachments.
This is not what Jesus meant when he said, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
From Bishop Greg…
It has come to my attention that a number of people within the diocese have been contacted by an individual claiming to be me and asking for assistance. This is now an all-too common phishing scam that seems to occur on a weekly basis at any one of the congregations in our diocese. It is a sad fact of life in our modern digital world is there will be people trying to get money or goods fraudulently through these phishing scams. Spear phishing is especially difficult because the perpetrator has the name of the sender or the recipient of the email and uses this to gain trust. There is no way to stop these scams from occurring. But by being vigilant, the risks can be minimized or averted. Here are some steps to take.
- Check the return email address. If the address doesn’t match the name of the sender, be wary.
- Never open attachments from unknown sources, especially those with .exe extensions.
- Be wary of generically addressed emails like Dear Friend or Dear Customer.
- If there are links in the email, hover over them without clicking on them. This will show where the link will actually take you.
- Look for grammatical or spelling errors in the text of the email.
- Check the address at the bottom of the email. If it says “Pastor Jim” and Jim never goes by “Pastor,” it’s fake.
Finally, if after all these steps it looks safe and the sender is asking for money or access to secure data, call the person directly to get verification. In the case of any communication coming out of the Office of the Bishop, please contact us directly at 206.325.4200 if there is any doubt as to the authenticity of a message.
Your best defense for this is to simply delete the email, do not click on any links or reply to the sender.