February 15, 2017
Ministries beware: An email scheme, designed to coincide with tax season, asks payroll and human resource professionals to disclose employees’ personal information. Think you wouldn’t fall for such a scam? You might, if the email looks as if it came from someone in your ministry.
Why you’re likely to fall victim
According to an Internal Revenue Service alert, the phishing emails often contain the actual name of someone in your organization, such as a board member or pastor. This “spoofing” technique makes the request appear legitimate.
Scam emails may look like these examples:
Similar scams involve a request to wire money. The methodology is the same: an email that appears to come from a board member or pastor requests that a wire transfer be made to an unfamiliar account. The email could say that it’s for an overseas charity that the pastor feels needs assistance.
Other scams mimic IRS emails
IRS Criminal Investigation already is reviewing several cases in which organizations unwittingly shared SSNs with cybercriminals. These email schemes are designed to look like official IRS communications, and ask organizations to give out information about refunds, filing status, personal information, or to verify PIN information. Be aware that the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
You can read more about the new consumer alerts issued by the IRS here.
If something looks suspicious, look carefully at the sender’s email address. At first glance, it may appear authentic. You may see firstname.lastname@example.org, when you should see jdoe@<yourministrydomain>.org. When in doubt, don’t click anything—verify that the person claiming to send the email actually sent it by checking in person or with a phone call.
You can also set a policy for financial data requests to be made only in person. To protect sensitive data, avoid emailing employee information unless using a secure transfer method. You can find more information about protecting your ministry’s digital data from Brotherhood Mutual.
As school is back in session, it’s important to make sure your school is equipped with the correct safety procedures. Thinking about your school’s physical security as a series of layers can help you find gaps in your plan. Transportation and volunteers are just two important aspects of your school safety plan to think about.
Anyone who turns on the news, flips through a magazine, or browses the web can see that American society and culture are experiencing rapid transitions. Some ministries have valid concerns that issues surrounding societal shifts may expose them to negative publicity, governmental scrutiny, or litigation.
The questions become: when and how can ministries operate within their deeply held religious beliefs when they may conflict with others’ rights?
Cyber security is increasingly crucial in our technologically advanced world. Scammers use many schemes when attempting to steal your data, but you can outsmart them by understanding their methods.
Having gas leak detectors placed within your ministry where a propane, natural gas or liquified petroleum gas fueled appliance is located is always the smart choice. The state of Maine decided to take this a step further and make it a law.
Most ministry leaders don’t realize there is funding available to non-profit employers including churches, schools, colleges, and camps. This post includes some highlights about the credit and guidance on where to start to see if your ministry is eligible.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially started June 1, and weather experts say this season is likely to produce above-normal activity. Take action to prepare your ministry to withstand a hurricane now, so you’re not scrambling when a watch or warning is posted.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Though child abuse may not be something you could ever imagine happening within your ministry, sexual abuse of a minor is one of the top five reasons churches end up in court, according to Church Law & Tax. Studies also show that a child is much more likely to be sexually abused by a trusted adult than a stranger.
When severe storms strike, they can produce high winds and tornadoes. Damaging winds can wreak havoc on your ministry’s property and to buildings. A high wind event can crash debris through your windows, strip your siding, down trees on your parking lot, peel shingles off your roof, and fling back the flashing.
Thieves are taking advantage of soaring precious metal prices. Take steps to protect your ministry’s vehicles and property.
As temperatures plummet, the risk of freezing pipes soars. Frozen pipes can cause costly messes that could also put your ministry on hold while you clean up.
Preparing for this Christmas season may require additional creativity, due to the uncertainty of what COVID-19 may bring in our local community.
A mid-November deadline in the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) bankruptcy proceedings may have you wondering what the organization’s bankruptcy filing means for your ministry if you ever hosted or chartered Boy Scout Troops.
Organizations that obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding through the CARES Act can have their loans forgiven, turning them into grants. To qualify, each borrower must file a forgiveness application with its PPP lender, proving that it followed the rules. If your church, school, college, or camp meets all the criteria, 100% of its loan can be forgiven.
Learn about the CARES Act and two loans for which ministries may be eligible, since Congress authorized additional funding April 23.
As concern over the dangers associated with the spread of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads, our agency and Brotherhood Mutual want to keep you informed and provide best practices for managing the spread of this and similar illnesses at your ministry.
The first Sunday in February is a big day for sports fans. In fact, many Americans view Super Bowl Sunday as a national holiday. Friends and families will gather this year to watch the big game, enjoy delicious snacks, and of course, critique the commercials that go along with game day.
Recently, we learned about two major overseas incidents involving pastors on mission trips. The first incident involved a pastor being hit by a motorcycle while running. The second was a bus accident involving two pastors. The runner and one of the two bus passengers sustained extensive injuries.
Last month, the IRS announced that its initiating hundreds of church exams to test compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While many provisions only apply to churches with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), even smaller churches could potentially violate provisions applicable to health benefit plans with as few as 2 plan participants.
July 4th is synonymous with food, fun, and fireworks. If your church is planning an event this Independence Day, remember to keep a focus on safety, so that everyone can have fun.
National Insurance Awareness Day falls on June 28 this year to remind people everywhere that insurance is vital to their companies and ministries.