Farmers and landowners are being warned to be alert for suspicious phone calls, texts and emails from fraudsters as the Rural Payments Agency begins the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments process today (Tuesday 1 December).
With the majority of these payments expected to be made before the end of December, and all by the close of January 2016, farmers are likely to be seen as very attractive targets for phone scammers over the festive period.
Criminals often call and claim that fraud has been detected on a business or personal bank account and that immediate action is required to remedy the situation. The victim is then tricked into handing over key financial information or transferring funds into a so-called ‘safe account’, which is controlled by the fraudster.
According to data from Financial Fraud Action UK, the first half of 2015 saw financial fraud losses rise by six percent.
CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “A lot of information as to who receives BPS payments is publically available, which makes farmers and landowners increasingly vulnerable.
“Criminals can target specific individuals and sound very convincing because of the large amount of data they have at their finger tips. Everyone involved in running a rural business needs to be aware of the risk.”
The CLA is advising its members to be cautious if they get any call, text or email out of the blue about BPS payments.
Miss Fairburn added: “Just because a caller knows a decent amount about your business, it is not confirmation that their message is authentic.
“If in doubt, put the phone down, wait five or 10 minutes to ensure the call has definitely ended or use a different phone, and then call the organisation using a number you have used previously and know is trustworthy.”
Those who believe that they have been a victim of this type of fraud can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk