August 17, 2022
Written by Ryan Sutherland, American Church Group of Colorado
In Genesis 25-27 we find a story about a family with Hollywood-level drama and deception. If you are not familiar with the reference, Jacob (the slightly younger twin brother of Esau) takes advantage of a moment of weakness and coerces Esau to give up his most personal and precious piece of data—his birthright!
But Jacob’s treachery does not stop there. He then impersonates Esau—even putting on hairy goat sleeves and gloves to mimic his brother’s hairy features—to convince their father of his false identity. The deceived Isaac gives away the blessing that belonged to Esau who is then left with nothing but anger and frustration at his brother’s theft.
Interestingly, events like this story are happening daily to ministries, through cyber-crime! At least on the surface in a worldly sense, the story of Esau and Jacob ought to teach us to watch out for those who seek to take advantage of and steal from us. And these perpetrators and thieves may even disguise themselves as family members to deceive!
Churches are increasingly becoming targets for cyber criminals. The most common attack is by sending “phishing” emails where the perpetrator poses as someone familiar to the ministry staff (like a senior pastor, deacon, elder, or someone trustworthy) and requests some sort of response. The bait is typically a sob story about how the pastor forgot to bring his wallet on a trip and needs a wire transfer. It is often uncanny how these attackers know and strike precisely when the pastor is traveling or out of the country.
Sometimes attacks are much more difficult to detect. Of note, we have noticed increases in situations where a ministry is about to electronically transfer funds to a vendor and before the transfer happens, they receive an email from the vendor stating that the account number they previously gave was the wrong one, or they have switched accounts. We have seen ministries wire tens of thousands of dollars directly into the account of a fraudulent individual. Once the money is gone, it is too late.
Churches often store vast amounts of important sensitive information that savvy hackers can use to steal identities or sell on the dark web. Ministries typically do not have regular protocols for purging data that is no longer needed. These personal data “breaches” are often expensive and humiliating to deal with because of the requirements to notify affected individuals that their data has been compromised.
Cyber liability insurance has become an essential part of doing business in the twenty-first century. Many leaders, however, do not believe they are large enough or have a big enough digital footprint to fall victim to such attacks. Or they think that information breached in the cloud is not their responsibility.
Legally you are responsible to safeguard your client’s personal information–regardless of where you store it. If cloud-based management systems get breached and your member’s data is compromised, then you are responsible to notify them and do whatever is necessary to restore their identities—costing the ministry thousands of dollars and sometimes hundreds of hours. Few ministries are equipped to even manage this type of situation themselves and require help from an outside agency to respond for them.
What would you do if this happened to you? Being prepared is one of the most important ways that ministries can protect against cyber-crime. Do you have a response plan in place when your ministry is attacked? Do you know who you will call? Do you have insurance coverage in place to help?
While Brotherhood Mutual cannot prevent cyber-crimes from happening, we can be a much-needed support in times of trouble. Many of our cyber coverages are tailer-made for the kinds of losses that churches experience including coercion, theft by electronic means and virus hacking to name a few. Since these are not automatically included in policies, speak to your agent about making sure you have the ones you need.
Be sure to reach out to our service team if you have any questions regarding your options when it comes to filing a claim. We are here for you, and we have your back! You can reach them by phone at 877-794-2330 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Sutherland – Account Executive
Ryan Sutherland serves as an Account Executive for the American Church Group of Colorado. Together, their team serves and insures around 3,000 ministries across six states.
© 2022 American Church Group of Colorado, LLC. All rights reserved.?The information in this article is intended to help your ministry better understand issues of vulnerability and mitigate risks.? It does not constitute legal advice between an attorney and a client. If specific legal advice is required, your ministry is encouraged to consult with a local attorney.?Neither Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, American Church of Colorado, LLC, nor?the author assumes liability for reliance upon the information provided in this?article.
One positive aspect of today’s challenged economy is the availability of underutilized or empty commercial space. Before your ministry takes the plunge into a lease agreement, we want to make sure you're well-informed and prepared to avoid some common pitfalls.
In this month's perspective on the insurance market, I wanted to talk about the massive upward trending we are seeing in cancellation of policies. Our agency has observed a remarkable surge in inquiries from churches not currently under our insurance coverage. These churches are facing non-renewal by their existing carriers, a trend that has expanded beyond the norm of non-renewals due to excessive losses. Instead, carriers are now opting not to renew based on the risk profile of the ministry, which encompasses factors like geography, insured value, and construction type.
There are so many insurance policies to consider when it comes to protecting your ministry, and keeping track of each one’s coverages can be a mind-numbing task. One that I often hear confusion about is the Excess Liability policy, more commonly referred to as an Umbrella. While these terms aren’t exactly interchangeable in the broader insurance world, they do have a lot of overlap. For purposes of understanding your Brotherhood Mutual policy, they are basically synonymous.
In recent times, our team has observed a growing demand for key man life insurance, particularly within the realm of church leadership. Pastors are the spiritual pillars of their congregations, providing guidance, support, and a sense of community. While their spiritual contributions are invaluable, it's equally important to consider their financial well-being and the stability of the church should an unforeseen tragedy occur.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and it's time to prepare for the festive cheer, delicious food, twinkling lights, and heartwarming gatherings. But amidst all the joy and celebration, let's take a moment to reflect on something essential - the well-being of our ministry leaders.
Water damage due to plumbing leaks and frozen pipes is a leading cause of property claims for ministries. The damage is often made worse because ministry buildings are typically not in use every day. Last year, nearly 1,000 Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company customers were impacted. To help protect ministries from experiencing costly water damage and disruptions, Brotherhood Mutual® recommends FloLogic, a comprehensive solution that can detect even the smallest water leak and automatically shut off the water to prevent flooding.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane to 1938 when General Electric made a groundbreaking move by introducing fluorescent tubes to the world. Even though the technology had been brewing since the late 1880s, it took time and the genius of several inventors to make it shine as a practical product.
We are living in a day and age of tremendous uncertainty. Like Joseph in Egypt, the physical world is incredibly unpredictable.
In the ever-changing realm of finances, the past few years have brought forth a whirlwind of alterations. Looking ahead, the next five years promise their fair share of surprises and uncertainties.
In the dynamic landscape of today's world, managing the HR needs of any ministry can be a complex and ever-changing endeavor. Whether you're dealing with sensitive situations that demand careful handling to avoid legal entanglements or aiming to proactively establish risk management strategies, the journey can be demanding.
As we gear up for the upcoming school season, it's a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at the coverage we offer to our beloved students and dedicated volunteers.
Are you tired of constantly hearing about rising expenses? It seems like every time I turn around, whether it's at the grocery store, the gas station, or even dealing with insurance, I'm faced with the reality of higher costs.
Let's face it, the world is constantly changing, and it's fascinating to witness the rapid evolution happening around us. Some futurists even predict that in the next two decades, the rate of change could be four times what it is today, and an astounding 16 times in 40 years.