We have heard from a number of North Georgia United Methodists who have been the target of a phishing scam via an email that appears to come from Bishop Dease.
If you receive an email that strikes you as unusual, confirm that it's legitimate before you reply. Remember to take a look at both the "from" and the "reply to" emails. Refrain from forwarding the email to others. Instead, make a quick phone call, send a text, or write a new email to confirm. If the email is fraudulent, please mark it as phishing in your email provider and delete the email.
Church members and clergy have been the target of fraudulent emails in recent years that appear to be from the pastor or church leader and ask for help (usually financial help). A common theme is a need for a gift card or urgent help for a loved one.
The issue isn't unique to North Georgia. An article in The Christian Post shared that churches nationwide are the target of these scams. The Federal Trade Commission shares tips on how to recognize and avoid phishing scams at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams.
The issue is also not limited to email but extends to text and even phone calls. Remember that the North Georgia Conference, clergy, and churches do not ask for personal or financial information by text or email.
Don't be rushed, instead, be cautious and confirm the legitimacy of a communication before you respond.