Phishing is a type of online scam that targets people by sending them an e-mail that appears to be from a well-known source – an internet service provider, a bank or even a nonprofit or community organization. These emails often ask the recipient to provide personal identifying information. Or they might ask for urgent assistance as an entrée to obtaining personal information or money.
For example, recently we heard that at a local faith organization, congregants there received an email from the pastor asking for a favor. In a case like this, should the recipient respond “of course”, the scammer posing as the pastor might ask the recipient to purchase a gift card for someone in need or work some other type of scam.
Should you ever receive a suspicious email like this purportedly from Grace Cathedral or one of our clergy, staff or ministries, don’t reply. It is a scam. There are clues in phishing emails that indicate they are not legitimate, as described in this information sheet from the Federal Trade Commission. The best course is not to reply to the email and to report it, either to your email provider (in Gmail, “Report Phishing” is one of the menu choices in the same drop-down menu where you select “Reply, Forward, etc.”) and/or to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Happy New Year, and remember: if someone sends you a phish, don’t bite!