April 13, 2020
Ministries are creatively scrambling to continue their operations and safely engage their congregations with an array of online technologies during the coronavirus pandemic. From working remote to live streaming Bible studies and services, it’s safe to say most ministries are relying on web-based programs more than ever.
Unfortunately, hackers are ready to take advantage of the confusion with scams designed to steal valuable data or siphon funds from your ministry.
How to Prevent this?
There are many precautions which can be taken to avoid this type of a loss. For example, if in doubt about the validity of a request, you can pick up the phone and call the person who you think is making the request and ask them to confirm it verbally. To learn more about to how protect your ministry against claims like these, check out Brotherhood Mutual’s new article, “Coronavirus: Beware of Cyber Fraud,” and another one that speaks to the issue of fake emails, “Stop the Thief In Your Inbox.”
A criminal creates an email that appears to be coming from the new executive pastor of the church. The criminal sends the church business manager an email that says the pastor is switching bank accounts and would like his paycheck EFT’d into the new account. While this is generally something that would be discussed in person, this is not possible now due to COVID-19. The business manager reluctantly complies with the request, even though something doesn’t “feel right” about the email. In addition, the business manager doesn’t want to frustrate the new boss. Once the “submit” button is hit, the money is gone.
Is My Ministry Covered?
There are varying degrees of risk tolerance regarding this type of exposure. To many, it can feel like something like this would never happen. However, we have seen increasing instances of this very type of theft, as criminals continue to use more sophisticated ways to victimize organizations. What if you have taken reasonable precautions, but a criminal still finds a way to persuade someone in your ministry to send funds to him? Will your insurance policy cover this type of loss? Under most theft insurance coverage forms, there is a provision which excludes “voluntary parting” with money. The funds were not stolen, they were voluntarily sent to the fraudulent party, albeit under false pretenses. Due to this exclusion, these claims would not normally be covered.
Brotherhood Mutual has created a coverage that directly addresses this exposure. It’s called “Theft by Coercion.” It does not include the “voluntary parting” exclusion, so it is intended to cover losses like the one described above.
Our purpose with this blog post is simply to educate you about what our agency is seeing. We would like to give you an efficient way to check on this coverage and add it to your policy. Please click here to reach out to our service team to add the coverage or inquire further and we would be happy to help you.
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