Even in the realm of church and worship endeavors, fraud is unfortunately prevalent. Case in hand, an email was recently sent out to the 2017 WFX exhibitors and speakers regarding attempts of fraud surrounding the show. Is your church susceptible to these threats as well? Yes, and this brief article will outline some common tips to help recognize potential fraud.
When teaching seminars a simple concept is taught, “We all have a sixth sense, it is simply all five senses working in perfect harmony.”
This also can be referred to as being street smart. In short, if something feels wrong, it probably is.
Practically speaking, for online and internet safety, unless you initialized the phone call, never give out any personal information of any kind.
If you are booking a room, get the number yourself off their website. If you are reserving a room online, make sure you have firewall protection and other basic computer safety programs installed and active.
WFX Cautionary Warning
Also in general, if someone begins to ask you seemingly innocent questions like where you are from, what high school you went to, the name of your favorite pet, these are red flags. This can be in-person, or even someone you just met. This can be an attempt to steal your password or pass a security test at your bank. Remember, people who do this are very good at what they do; it will not be a bullet list of questions. It will be part of a seemingly innocent conversation.
Unfortunately (but not without merit sometimes), Christians are seen as soft targets. This means we are perceived as more gullible. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of anything from a great church service or something like the WFX Expo.
Listen to your gut, if something seems wrong, it probably is. If a conversation does not seem right, most experts will say walk away.
Sometimes it is not that easy. If you cannot just excuse yourself, start to ask questions and take control of the conversation.
Remember, darkness hates the light. If you begin to expose this person, they will likely walk away. Ask where they are from and what organization they represent. Ask for a business card. Ask what brought them to the conference and what sessions are they planning to attend. If this person is legitimate but perhaps just socially awkward, their answers will seem natural. If however, they begin to stutter, look away, perspire, or look agitated; this is another red flag.
Inside this or any other large gathering, you will have people with ill intent, however, it is outside the venue that the “bad guys” see you as their prey.
Practice strong environmental awareness. This means looking up, be confident and aware. Do not look down at your phone as you walk to and from the venue. This basically says, “Hey! Bad guy! Look at me, I am a victim!” I don’t mean get all twitchy, paranoid and live in fear.
You can think of your personal security like this; every day we do numerous things that keep us safe with nary a thought. When you buckle up, do you imagine all the horrors of a car crash? No, you just buckle up because it is habit.
When you cross the street, do you think of getting run over by a car? No, without even hardly thinking, you look both ways, and when clear, you cross the street. Learning how to practice environmental awareness, to learn to be wary at certain times and trusting at others and a few other basic safety tips can be as second nature as buckling up.
This article is a very brief introduction to getting you to think differently about your personal safety. In the weeks leading up to the WFX Expo, you can watch for an article that teaches valuable skills. This feature, Recognizing Predatory Behavior in a Church Setting, will help you to continue to take your personal safety into your own hands—no matter where you are. Until then be safe and God bless.