Farmers face a heightened threat of fraudulent scams and other criminal activity during the coronavirus pandemic, say industry leaders.
The advice comes after reports of suspicious websites advertising farm vehicles and machinery for sale that – in reality – do not exist.
NFU Cymru said coronavirus restrictions could mean some farmers may be duped into buying agricultural goods online from sources they would not usually consider.
NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said: “Many farmers may be looking online to purchase goods and ‘big ticket’ items that they would usually travel to inspect in person.”
He added: “We should all be wary of the fact that, unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals out there who are targeting farmers through criminal and fraudulent activity.”
The union says farmers should consider their options carefully before committing to online purchases – and ideally stick with trusted brands and websites.
It says farmers should:
1. Use a secure payment method
Paying online with a credit card means the lender is, by law, jointly liable with the retailer. If you sign your credit and debit cards up to Mastercard SecureCode and Verified by Visa, you will get an extra layer of password protection.
2. Check for the padlock when shopping online
If the website you are using uses a ‘https’ web address and carries a security padlock in the browser, it means any data you enter is encrypted, making it harder for others to intercept.
3. Make purchases on a secure network
If you are buying products online using a mobile device, do so over a secure network, ideally a password-protected home network that only your family has access to. Don’t purchase goods online over public wifi.
4. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is
It’s an old adage, but it still rings true. Don’t be tempted by something that could carry a risk just because the cost is appealing.
Mr Jones said: “There are many things we can all do to protect ourselves online and minimise the chances of falling victim to a scam.
“I’d encourage all farmers to heed the advice being given around online scams and exercise extra caution before committing to online purchases.”