Protect against email and text scams
Over the past several years, scammers have gotten increasingly more sophisticated with targeting people in our congregations and diocesan offices via email and texts. Stopping the scammers is from doing this is difficult, so it is important to provide education and resources about how to spot suspicious messages and avoid falling for scams.
Please talk with church staff and volunteers about scam emails
Have you recently received an “urgent” email from someone impersonating Bishop Marc or a clergy colleague? Unfortunately, we are among a number of dioceses seeing an uptick in cyber thieves using fake email addresses to impersonate Episcopal rectors, vicars, and even bishops. It appears that the scammers target church members and leaders who have their email addresses listed on the church’s website.
Former diocesan Communications Project Manager Dani Scoville created a helpful flyer with a few quick tips on how to identify a scam email. Please consider sharing it with your staff, volunteers, and congregants and also posting it wherever you post paper resources. Below are the best practices listed on the flyer:
Protect against scam emails. Keep an eye out for:
- Money or information requests — Clergy and the bishop will never ask for money, gift cards, or personal information via email.
- Urgent language — Does the email have vague but urgent language? (Ex: “I’m in a meeting right now, but please send me the gift cards as quickly as possible!”)
- Fraudulent email addresses — Check the email address against what is listed on the church or diocesan website.
Not sure if it’s a scam?
You can always call or email your church or diocesan office to verify if the email is real. For emails, go to to the website of your church or diocese and use the email address listed there.
These best practices can also be applied to text scams.
Do not reply to suspicious text messages. Instead reach out to your rector, diocesan staff, or church staff directly via the contact information listed on their website.
Want to file a complaint?
Federal Trade Commission is aware that worshipers are being targeted by gift card scams: “This time, scammers are pretending to be a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam, or bishop. They’re asking worshipers for gift card contributions for a worthy cause. Appeals are often made by email, but we’ve heard people are also getting texts and phone calls, too.”
Even if you haven’t heard of this happening in your church, please still talk to your staff and congregants about scam emails, texts, and phone calls. Some people have fallen prey to this scam but haven’t told anyone because they feel shame.