IRS Warns of Dangerous W-2 Email Scam

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:

  • Kindly send me the 2016 W-2s and earning summaries for all of our staff for a quick review.
  • Can you send me the updated employee list with full details—name, Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth, home address, and salary?
  • I need a list of employees’ wage and tax statements for 2016. Email it to me ASAP.

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.

Stay vigilant

If something looks suspicious, look carefully at the sender’s email address. At first glance, it may appear authentic. You may see jdoe@sender.com, 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.

June 9, 2022
Tips and best practices for a safe VBS and camp season
Tips and best practices for a safe VBS and camp season

This summer is shaping up to be a banner year for churches offering Vacation Bible School (VBS) or summer day camps. After a couple of years of cancellations, mask mandates, and social distancing, that is refreshing and encouraging news.  

As we prepare to welcome droves of children into our summer activities, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to make their experience enjoyable, memorable, and safe.  

Tags: ministry, cyber security, technology, data, protection
June 9, 2022
Protecting your mission trip travelers
Protecting your mission trip travelers

If you are planning your first volunteer or ministry trip abroad, it is important to know a few guidelines for traveling safely. There are some common pitfalls new travelers often struggle with that can be prevented with a little preparation. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to prepare yourself for traveling abroad safely.  

Tags: ministry, cyber security, technology, data, protection
June 9, 2022
Inflation's mark on the insurance industry is significant in 2022
Inflation's mark on the insurance industry is significant in 2022

As we enter the middle of 2022 amidst uncertainty in many areas, we continue to look at ways our ministries may be exposed. Inflation has reared its ugly head into the economy, and it has a massive effect on the construction industry, trickling into areas that matter to you and your ministry.     

  

Tags: ministry, cyber security, technology, data, protection
May 19, 2022
Five Common Tricks of Cyber Scammers
Five Common Tricks of Cyber Scammers

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.

Tags: ministry, cyber security, technology, data, protection
July 22, 2021
Thousands in Relief Funding Available to Ministries Through the Employee Retention Credit
Thousands in Relief Funding Available to Ministries Through the Employee Retention Credit

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.

Tags: ERC, tax credit, payroll
April 23, 2021
Predictions and Insights for VBS 2021
Predictions and Insights for VBS 2021

If your church is anything like mine, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a big deal. Not just because it is central to our ministry’s outreach to young families, but because of the important role that VBS plays in the spiritual formation of children.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
April 13, 2021
Take Time to Review Your Ministry's Child Protection Plan
Take Time to Review Your Ministry's Child Protection Plan

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.

Tags: safety, protect, child protection, youth, child abuse
March 16, 2021
Prepare for Severe Spring Storms Now
Prepare for Severe Spring Storms Now

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.

Tags: weather emergency, lightning, storms, safety, protect
February 25, 2021
Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise: Protect Ministry Vehicles
Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise: Protect Ministry Vehicles

Thieves are taking advantage of soaring precious metal prices. Take steps to protect your ministry’s vehicles and property.

Tags: protect, theft, vehicles
February 15, 2021
Grant Funds Available for Safeguarding Ministries
Grant Funds Available for Safeguarding Ministries

As the Director of Ministry Safety for our agency, I am dedicated to finding ways to help safeguard ministries like yours.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
February 5, 2021
Avoid Frozen Pipes as Temperatures Plummet
Avoid Frozen Pipes as Temperatures Plummet

As temperatures plummet, the risk of freezing pipes jumps. Frozen pipes can cause costly messes that could also put your ministry on hold while you clean up.

Tags: frozen, building, pipes, prevent damage
January 12, 2021
Potential Vulnerabilities in School's Safety Plan
Are there hidden vulnerabilities in your school's safety plan?

On behalf of our agency, I recently participated in one such training which focused on strategies and tactics for responding as a single officer to an active safety threat in a school building.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
January 5, 2021
Church Safety Trends for 2021
Church Safety Trends for 2021

If you’re anything like me (and maybe the rest of the world for that matter), you’re grateful to put the craziness of the past year behind us.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
November 23, 2020
COVID-19 and the Christmas Season
COVID-19 and the Christmas Season

Preparing for this Christmas season may require additional creativity, due to the uncertainty of what COVID-19 may bring in our local community.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
October 28, 2020
Guidance for Ministries About Boy Scouts' Bankruptcy
Guidance for Ministries About Boy Scouts' Bankruptcy

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.

Tags: coverage, protect, liability, damages, youth
October 27, 2020
Self-Defense or Second-Degree Murder?
Self-Defense or Second-Degree Murder?

On October 10, 2020, in Denver, Colorado, a 30-year-old private security guard who was hired to protect a Denver news crew while covering protests was involved in a deadly shooting that claimed the life of a 49-year-old man. 

October 1, 2020
Applying for PPP Loan Forgiveness
Applying for PPP Loan Forgiveness

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.

August 27, 2020
Emergency Dispatch: Cameron Peak
Emergency Dispatch: Cameron Peak

Lessons learned from the front line of a wildland fire.

Tags: liability, damages, protect, directors and officers, coverage
August 20, 2020
Colorado Wildfires: Prepare Your Ministry Now
Colorado Wildfires: Prepare Your Ministry Now

Four major wildfires are burning across Colorado, fueled by dry vegetation, drought and wind.

Tags: liability, damages, protect, directors and officers, coverage
April 13, 2020
Beware of COVID-19 Cyber Scams
Beware of COVID-19 Cyber Scams

Ministries are creatively scrambling to continue their operations and safely engage their congregations with an array of online technologies during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, hackers are ready to take advantage of the confusion with scams designed to steal valuable data or siphon funds from your ministry. Learn how to keep your ministry safe from scams. 

Tags: liability, damages, protect, directors and officers, coverage