Farmers are being warned to be aware of fraudsters as Basic Payments start to arrive in bank accounts.
Recipients should be alert for suspicious phone calls, texts and emails from fraudsters, said the Country Land and Business Association.
With the majority of these payments expected to be made before the end of December, and all by the close of January 2016, claimants are likely to be seen as attractive targets for phone scammers over the festive period, it said.
Fraudsters often call and claim that fraud has been detected on their victim’s business or personal bank accounts, 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 criminal.
According to data from Financial Fraud Action UK, the first half of 2015 saw a 6% increase in financial fraud losses.
CLA East regional Director Ben Underwood 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 fingertips. Therefore it’s vital that everyone involved in running rural businesses are on alert.
Farmers should be cautious of any call, text or email out of the blue about BPS payments, even if the caller stated there had been fraud on the account, said Mr Underwood.
“Remember that 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, and then call the organisation the caller claimed to have been from, ensuring you use a number you have used previously and know is trustworthy.”
Those who believe they have been a victim of this type of fraud can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit the Auction Fraud website.