Q: How can I tell when these messages are fake?
A: Bishop Graves and other conference leaders would never e-mail you and ask for monetary donations, gift cards, etc., even in an emergency. Legitimate donation requests would be communicated via the Alabama-West Florida Conference Website, the NewsCONNECTION, or through the AWF Office of Communications.
Q: Why does the Conference Leadership’s email keep getting hacked?
A: It doesn’t. These scam e-mails (or “phishing” attempts) circulate around the disreputable realms of the internet. They are not sent from AWFUMC (awfumc.org) email accounts. See below.
Q: What is phishing?
A: According to this website, “Phishing is a crime in which identity thieves attempt to elicit sensitive, personal information from you by masquerading as a trustworthy source in electronic communication.” These e-mails may come from someone who appears to be a bishop, your pastor, a family member, etc., but are not sent from their legitimate email accounts.
Q: Has my personal information been compromised?
A: Receiving these messages does not mean your private information has been compromised. Just be sure, do NOT reply or respond in any manner. Never click on links or open attachments when you receive any suspicious email.
Q: What can I do to take action?
Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams
FBI general information: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/on-the-internet