Freeport parishoners warned after text message phishing scam
Parishioners at St. Mary, Mother of God Church in Freeport were warned about a text message phishing scam over the weekend.
Two parishioners reported to church officials last week they received text messages that appeared to be from the parish asking for iTunes gift cards to be donated to hospital patients, said Jerry Zufelt, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.
A church official notified other parishioners about the texts, which were not legitimate, prior to Mass this past weekend. Such phishing scams “pop up from time to time” in the diocese, Zufelt said.
The Greensburg diocese is not alone.
Churches across the country have reported similar scams over the last several months including one in North Carolina, others in the Washington D.C. area and one in Connecticut that posted an example of an email purportedly sent by a pastor.
If a local parishioner would purchase the gift card and respond to the phishing message with the numbers on the card, it would be virtually untraceable, Zufelt said. The diocese warned all parishes of this type of scam in January, he said.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that phishers operate under the guise of familiar and trusted companies in order to get someone’s personal information. The FTC advises consumers to check out the phone number or email address that is being used in the message and to not respond or click on any links or attachments in the message.
Such messages can be reported through the FTC.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .