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.

February 19, 2024
Is Your Facility Use Agreement Working For You?
Is Your Facility Use Agreement Working For You?

With Valentine’s Day upon us and the official May-to-October wedding season not far behind, many couples are searching for the perfect wedding venue.  Schools and performing arts organizations are looking for end-of-year performance and graduation venues.  Your church or nonprofit facility might be the perfect match.  Engaging the opportunity has stewardship and community outreach benefits.  But opening your facilities to other activities and users involves risk.  A Facility Use Policy sets the standard for your facility use.   A Facility Use Agreement implements that standard.  To be effective,  leaders must answer three questions.

Tags: church insurance, ministry, legal agreements, facility rental
February 19, 2024
PART TWO: How protected are members of your safety team? The answer may surprise you.
PART TWO: How protected are members of your safety team? The answer may surprise you.

The focus of this article is to address some of the risks and liabilities associated with having an armed safety team. Click here to read PART ONE.

Tags: church safety, security teams, ministry, hr
February 19, 2024
Client Success Advisors at your Service!
Client Success Advisors at your Service!

Over the last few years, our agency has continued to grow and expand across the Midwest & Rockies, now spanning six states: Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Serving over 3,000 ministries and nonprofit organizations, we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to support you.

Tags: trends, insurance, church, ministry
February 19, 2024
5 Predictions on What is Going to Happen in 2024's Church Insurance Market
5 Predictions on What is Going to Happen in 2024's Church Insurance Market

Do you ever feel like some words just get overused?  I do.  I live in a house with two teenagers and a sweet little boy who watches everything they do.  The word "literally", gets used in 80% of sentences...  It isn't even impactful anymore.  It means nothing.  Because if they didn't use that word, I would just expect that most of what they were saying was metaphoric in nature.

Tags: trends, insurance, church, ministry
January 12, 2024
Worker Classification Risk: Employee v. Independent Contractor
Worker Classification Risk:  Employee v. Independent Contractor

The new year signals the end of one payroll year and the beginning of another.  As you process employee W2s and independent contractor 1099s, take time to evaluate a critical aspect of your ministry business risk management program: proper worker classification.  While the percentage of the American workforce comprising “contingent workers” (independent contractors, contract employees, temporary employees, leased employees) was rapidly increasing before COVID, since COVID and the acceptance of the remote workplace, use of contingent workers has skyrocketed. You probably have several on your payroll.

Tags: independent contractor, w2, classification
January 12, 2024
How protected are members of your safety team?
How protected are members of your safety team?

Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to speak with several thousand church safety team members across the country. By far the most common question I get from this group is “Am I covered if something bad happens?” This is not a question that only pertains to armed safety team members. Truth is, anyone who serves in the protection of a ministry should be asking that question. The purpose of this article is to help ministries be better informed and more prepared in advance of an incident occurring.

Tags: safety team, security, ministry protection
January 12, 2024
Stay Ahead of the Freeze: Sign Up for Text Alerts
Stay Ahead of the Freeze: Sign Up for Text Alerts

We’re encouraging all customers to stay ahead of the freezing weather by signing up to receive Extreme Freezing Weather Text Alerts from Brotherhood Mutual. It’s new. The alert also links to actions you can take immediately to prevent or minimize damage to your buildings before forecasted weather arrives.

Tags: text alerts, frozen pipes, severe weather, winter weather
January 12, 2024
There's Something for Everyone at this Year's 2024 Ministry Boot Camp!
There's Something for Everyone at this Year's 2024 Ministry Boot Camp!

Join us for a comprehensive, one-day training for all! Tailored breakout sessions cover complex HR topics for administration and provides in-depth training, including a deeper review into de-escalation, for the security team. In the afternoon, unite in a deep dive on child safety with proprietary insights the anatomy of an abuse claim and protecting our youth.

Tags: ministry bootcamp, security training, HR training, human resources
December 20, 2023
Wishing you a Merry Christmas – 80s Style
Wishing you a Merry Christmas – 80s Style
Tags: ministry protection, coverages, liability, umbrella policy
November 7, 2023
Three common pitfalls that may be hidden in your church's lease
Three Common Pitfalls That May Be Hidden In Your Church's Lease

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.

Tags: ministry, lease, property
November 7, 2023
Insurance Companies Are Forced To Respond To Unprecedented Market Strain. What Does This Mean For You?
Insurance Companies Are Forced To Respond To Unprecedented Market Strain. What Does This Mean For You?

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.

Tags: market strain, weather, catastrophic losses, renewal, risk
November 7, 2023
Umbrella for a Rainy Day
Umbrella for a Rainy Day

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.

Tags: ministry protection, coverages, liability, umbrella policy
October 6, 2023
The Crucial Role of Key Man Life Insurance for Church Pastors
The Crucial Role of Key Man Life Insurance for Church Pastors

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.

Tags: finance, security, church pastor, community
October 6, 2023
Wellbeing Resources for Ministry Leaders
Wellbeing Resources for Ministry Leaders

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.

Tags: full strength network, counseling, church pastor, pastoral counseling
October 6, 2023
Stop Plumbing Leaks with FloLogic
Stop Plumbing Leaks with FloLogic

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. 

Tags: flologic, leaks, water damage, prevention
September 8, 2023
Fluorescent Lighting: The End of An Era
Fluorescent Lighting: The End of An Era

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.

Tags: church payroll, finance, IRS regulations, paying employees, tax code
September 8, 2023
God's Sovereignty or Wise Planning?
God's Sovereignty or Wise Planning?

We are living in a day and age of tremendous uncertainty. Like Joseph in Egypt, the physical world is incredibly unpredictable.

Tags: church payroll, finance, IRS regulations, paying employees, tax code
September 8, 2023
Why Some Churches are Rethinking their Financial Planning
Why Some Churches are Rethinking their Financial Planning

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.

Tags: church payroll, finance, IRS regulations, paying employees, tax code
September 8, 2023
HR360: Your Essential Guide to Navigating Ministry-Specific HR Challenges
HR360: Your Essential Guide to Navigating Ministry-Specific HR Challenges

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.

Tags: church payroll, finance, IRS regulations, paying employees, tax code
August 8, 2023
Understand your Medical Coverage for Students & Volunteers
Understand your Medical Coverage for Students & Volunteers

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.

Tags: medical coverage, students, voluteers