Wouldn’t it be great if we never had to worry about dishonesty in the church? Unfortunately, the church is not exempt from becoming the victim of wrongdoing. That’s why it is important to take appropriate measures to ensure that your church isn’t thrust into a negative spotlight resulting in a lost testimony to the world.
Keith Hamilton’s article 10 Ways to Prevent the Embezzlement of Church Funds outlines ten practical and easy to implement steps. From conducting an annual financial review to tracking giving patterns over time, Hamilton illustrates how your church can practice good financial accountability.
What steps is your church taking to prevent embezzlement and other types of fraud?
What happens if your name and email address fall into unwanted hands? While experts suggest that this exposes you to minimal risk, they also say the potential for receiving unwanted or even harmful email because of it is great. A recent security breach will put these views to the test.
Epsilon, an email marketing company, reported last week that their systems were hacked and an undetermined number of names and email addresses were stolen. According to John D. Sutter’s article As scope of e-mail hack grows, should you be worried?, the immediate concern is not identity theft, but instead, targeted phishing emails which may lead to identity theft if responded to. At ECCU, we take member security seriously and have provided more information on phishing.
What are you doing to protect yourself from potential identity theft?
According to Javelin Research’s 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report published in July, more than 11 million people were identity theft victims in 2009. Now there’s an overwhelming statistic. How can we stay vigilant while still enjoying the efficiencies and convenience made possible by online banking technology?
One primary way is to be aware and informed. Banking security regulations require financial institutions to protect your information and identity. Understanding your bank’s stance on security is crucial. Here at ECCU, we are dedicated to securing our members’ personal information and helping to educate them about the need for vigilance. For example:
- Our online banking platform is protected with 24/7 security.
- Our website—eccu.org—offers a variety of resources, including white papers that discuss data security, tips on protecting yourself from identity theft, and news posts on the homepage of recent scams that have affected the financial community.
- Our staff is also trained in security and fraud prevention techniques.
Additional steps your ministry can take to combat online fraud come from the Association for Financial Professionals:
- Never link to your financial institution’s website. Instead, type the address into your browser.
- Immediately contact your financial institution if you see unusual or unexpected activity on your account.
- Be cautious of emails that claim to come from your financial institution. (ECCU will never request personal identification or account information, such as your Social Security or account numbers, from you via our website or email. If you receive any email requesting this information, be suspicious, do not respond, and notify us immediately.)
- Know what your financial institution’s website looks like and what questions it asks to verify your identity.
- If possible, dedicate a single computer for online banking access. The fewer computers that have sensitive information, the less likely it is that the information will be compromised. (We recommend never storing passwords on the same computer you use for online banking.)
- Consider blocking plug-ins and pop-ups on computers used for online banking.
From time to time we call or email a member to ask if a specific transaction is legitimate. The response is often an expression of appreciation for the extra steps taken to protect their accounts.
One missionary in Ecuador, for example, said, “I really appreciate your vigilance on account activity that may be fraudulent.”
Another serving in the Philippines said, “We appreciate ECCU’s continual efforts to strike a good balance between security and convenience (both high values, but not always easily compatible). Your commitment to service—and especially knowing that we have a financial institution who understands our context—is a tremendous blessing to us!”
How about your ministry? What are you doing to protect your information when banking online?