Warning About Cybercriminals
Cybercriminals have one goal, to steal from you and online fraud is recently on the increase. Cybercriminals are aggressively targeting and preying upon the public in various ways. Stay vigilant and be on the lookout for suspicious emails, texts, and phone calls.
Parishioners have notified us that they have received emails and texts from cybercriminals pretending to be Fr. Bedel, other pastors, and possibly even staff members asking for a favor, money, gift cards, etc. These Scam/Phishing emails or texts attempt to extort money from those associated with our parish. The scammers are exploiting folks’ helpful natures by sending email messages pretending to be from our pastors. These emails usually begin by asking the recipient if they are available to help the pastor with something important. Once the recipient replies, the sender then begins asking for help getting money, usually in the form of gift cards, then sending the gift card details back via email.
According to news sources, cybercriminals are installing malware on computers through legitimate-looking coronavirus maps and suspicious emails such as emails containing links disguised as Covid-19 FAQs, offers for vaccination and/or medicine, and emails seeking donations for false charities claiming to assist those affected by Covid-19.
Furthermore, many of the phishing emails are trying to trick you into believing they were sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Tips for identifying a Phishing Scam Email and staying safe:
- The “name” on the sender’s email address may match that of your pastor, the actual email address will be different than the pastor or staff’s church email address.
- If the email address appears correct but the content or your intuition is sending off alarm bells in your head please reach out to us to verify. This will help us identify if our email accounts have been compromised or are being spoofed.
- Carefully check any email message that asks for money, in any form (including gift cards, banking information, etc.) should be verified by contacting the perceived “sender” directly, in person or by phone, before responding via email.
- Scammers sometimes try to initially engage the recipient with an email (without asking for the above information), trying to get them to reply.
- Report, phishing emails to your email service provider. We have a few links on this page to help guide you.
- Create strong passwords and do not reuse them. Passwords of 8 or less characters, can be hacked within a few hours. Longer passwords are harder to crack.
- Longer passwords using just lowercase letters are much more difficult to hack. Choosing four (4) random words to create a password of nothing but lowercase letters at least sixteen (16) characters long will require 34,000 years to hack! Such a password is easier to remember as well.
- Use a password manager that can generate long complex passwords and save them in a secured management vault for you to access when you need them.
These scammers continue to target religious organizations and their congregants because their methods work (people send them money without asking questions). Please be cautious don’t fall for their tricks. Please be aware of these scams and help spread the word among our community.
If you are suspicious of any email, text, call, etc. that appears to be coming from St. Margaret of York pastors or staff please know that we welcome a call to the parish office (513.697.3100) to verify if it’s actually coming from us which helps us identify and notify parishioners when our community is actively being targeted.