Avoid Email Phishing Scams
To All the Saints of Austin:
“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Email phishing scams are extremely common, and particularly so at All Saints’, and our members continue to be victimized by it. I am writing to describe the problem to you so that you spot and avoid email scams. I don’t want you to be victimized.
The scam is for someone to send you an email that claims to be from me or someone else you trust at All Saints’, asking you either to click an unfamiliar link, or to send money or gift cards to me (at a fake email address) or to a third party. If you send money or gift cards to an unexpected destination, the criminal receives the cash value, and you have been defrauded. If you click on a link you didn’t expect or request, you may be loading spyware, ransomware, or a computer virus onto your computer.
Faking an email address is easy and commonplace. Just because you receive an email that says it’s from me or from a person you trust at All Saints’, that does not mean the sender isn’t impersonating me or someone else. It also doesn’t mean that I have been “hacked.” It means that someone is using my name to fool you into doing something that will defraud you.
Here is what to do:
- Never ever click on a link you receive by email unless you are absolutely certain that it is legitimate. Ever. Now the dilemma here is that I send you links all the time, for example, to join us for live worship or to download the bulletin. So if you’re not completely sure that the message comes from me, please feel free to call me and ask for confirmation. My cell phone number is 760-851-4641. If you’re not sure that’s really my phone number, ask someone you trust to confirm it for you.
- Neither I nor anyone else calling, writing, texting, or emailing on behalf of All Saints’ EVER will ask you for money, gift cards, or other items of value
- for ourselves or for any third party except All Saints’ Episcopal Church itself.
- in any form except a check made out to All Saints’ Episcopal Church, or through an online giving link on our website (NEVER through a link that’s part of an email).
- to be sent to anyone other than All Saints’ Episcopal Church at our street address: 209 W. 27th St., Austin, TX 78705.
- Be very suspicious if you receive a communication that appears to be from me
- using any email address other than [email protected]
- referring to myself in the body of the text as “Rev. Lane” or “Father Lane” (I always just go by “Lane”; the "From" address of bulk email messages from me does call me "The Rev. Lane Hensley", but in the text itself, I almost always will refer to myself as "Lane" or as "Lane✠").
- asking you to contact me at a phone number or email address you don’t recognize.
- claiming that I have been robbed, kidnapped, or stranded.
- asking for financial assistance for a needy third party.
- by telephone, claiming that my voice sounds unusual because I’m sick or exhausted.
- with large numbers of typographical errors, or addressing you in an unusual way.
For more information: I’d very much like to provide a link for more information on this, but that would contradict my recommendation that you not click on a link you receive by email. Instead, I encourage to use Google (or your favorite search system) to find “How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams” from the Federal Trade Commission.