Farmers are being warned not to respond to a scam letter issued by a German-based business called UK Data Control, asking for details of missing VAT numbers.
The official-looking letter asks for confirmation of VAT numbers and other business details. However, the small print within the letter from the Hamburg-based business confirms that signing and returning the form also commits the signatory to agreeing to pay £790 annually for their details to be published on a website.
FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “This letter has been made to look like official Government communication which could easily trick many farmers and rural business owners into providing their details.
“The financial implication of providing the company with business details could be devastating. I urge farmers and rural business owners to remain vigilant against these scam letters.”
It is not the first time UK Data Control has hit the headlines. Earlier, this year a number of Scottish trading standards authorities, including Orkney, Aberdeen, Dumfries and Galloway reported the business scam.
Former Scottish MEP and Stewartry farmer John Corrie received the letter and said was concerned that other farmers could be duped: “A lot of people could have got this letter and it’s so easy to sign these things.”
Alun Thomas, Wales Citizens Advice (CA) public affairs spokesman, said scams were sadly becoming increasing prevalent and he urged farmers to report them to the CA’s consumer services.
“Sadly, only about five per cent of scam letters are reported. We would urge people to report potential scams to our consumer services, who can then find out whether they are bone fide and then report if necessary to trading standards.”
The Citizens Advice consumer services line can be reached on 03454 04 05 06 or a Welsh line on 03454 04 05 05.