From Fishing to Phishing

Jesus invited his disciples to become fishers of men. Today, fishing has a new meaning and spelling – phishing. In our digital world, phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a reputable person or company. The goal of the phishing email is to get you to do something that could rob you of valuable information or money. 

The Current Phishing Scheme

You may have gotten a phishing email supposedly from me. Here’s how it works; the email uses a pastor’s name, picture (often from the web), church name and address. It says the pastor has a special need and is asking you to respond. If you respond, you’ll be asked to do “the pastor” a favor and give a gift card or money order to help someone in need. It sounds and looks legitimate. However, the email is fabricated (often using Gmail) using the pastor’s or church name in it, but it is not the pastor’s or church’s real email.

Protect yourself from the phishing scam. The next phishing scam that supposedly comes from me (or another Pantano leader) might look a little different from what I described. These thieves are clever and they will keep trying new angles. There will be many more new variations of content and structure to try to steal your money.

What We Will Never Do

No leader (including me!) from Pantano will ever solicit funds by asking you to send gift cards, money orders, etc. or ask you to provide any financial information through an email. Our leaders will not send you a personal email asking you for a financial “favor.” Period! If you get such an email, know for certain it is a phishing scam!

When we ask for funds, like we did this past weekend for the scholarship offering (or Christmas Eve offering, etc.), you can only give by depositing your gift in the giving boxes at our campuses or giving at the secure Pantano online site that you can access through our web page https://pantano.church/give/ or on your mobile app.  

What To Do If You Get A Suspicious Email

If you ever get an email from me or any staff, elder or leader at Pantano and you just are not sure if it is real, call the church office or text the person FIRST to see if the email is legitimate. Go back to a previous email from the person and use that email address if you want to ask about whether the email is real or a scam.  

Do not reply to the email until you are absolutely sure it is legitimate. If or when you know it is spam – simply “report it as spam.”

Glen Elliott

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