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Scam Alert: Ignore these church calls

Charity scams are nothing new, and if you’ve received a call from a local pastor lately asking for money, just consider it another one from the growing list. Even though it seems like these scams and warnings are never-ending, we still want to make sure we let you know about all of them – no matter how small.

This hoax starts with someone calling and claiming to be a pastor from a local church raising money, and it primarily targets Hispanics and Catholics. The “pastor” then asks the parishioner to donate money by purchasing gift cards and letting them know the number on the back of the card.

While many churches may be happy with whatever donations they can get, the only thing you’ll be contributing to is a scammer’s bank account. If you wouldn’t throw an iTunes gift card into the collection plate, just go ahead and assume a real church wouldn’t want one either. Scammers like gift cards because they’re readily available, easy to transfer over the phone, and practically untraceable and irreversible. Instead of giving in to scammer’s demands, ask them “WWJD?” and hang up.

Here’s how to protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Never give out or confirm personal information over the phone, via email or on a website until you’ve checked out whoever is asking you for it.
  • Do not trust a name, phone number, or email address just because it seems to be okay. Con artists use official-sounding titles and may fake caller ID or email address information to make you trust them.
  • If the call seems fishy, hang up and contact the church directly to verify their request.
  • If you would like to donate, take the money straight to the church or the person for whom it’s intended.

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