Beware of BPS fraudsters targeting farmers

Farmers and landowners are being urged to be extra vigilant as fraudsters eye the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) funds that will soon start to hit bank accounts.

The window for BPS payments will open on 1 December and fraudsters are aware of the timing of these payments and specifically target individuals.

With the majority of these payments expected to be made before the end of December, BPS claimants are attractive targets for phone scammers over the festive period.

See also: What to do if you’re a victim of… fraud?

Payments for agri-environment schemes, including Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship, are also due during the same window (December to June) – and farmers should remain doubly vigilant that their payments for these schemes are also protected from fraudsters.

Farmers and farm businesses should also be wary of people calling or emailing and claiming to represent their bank or the police.

Under no circumstances should you hand over bank account details, as the genuine bank or police will never ask you to do this.

Richard Wordsworth, the NFU’s senior Basic Payment Scheme adviser, said: “Farmers have been through some very difficult months dealing with wet weather. Their guard can be down a bit.

“People have bills to pay, but you do not want to be that person who pays £6,000 to a feed merchant to find out later that money has gone to a fraudster.

“There is so much going on in farmer’s lives. They are stressed and can easily be distracted. If we can save five or even 20 people from losing money, it would make us feel a lot better.”

How to avoid becoming the next victim

Advice from the banks and Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA) sets out a number of simple rules that can be followed to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

  • Your bank, the police or the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will never ask you to reveal your online password, PIN or bank account details or ask you to make a payment over the telephone.
  • Never discuss your bank account details with someone you don’t know, or click on unknown or unexpected computer links or emails.
  • If in doubt, call the organisation concerned, ideally on a different telephone, using a number you know to be official. You can usually find this on the organisation’s website.
  • Be cautious about what you share online. Fraudsters will use information such as social media posts to gain knowledge of a person’s circumstances that will help them to scam victims.

If you suspect an attempted fraud or feel you have been the subject of fraud, you can contact:

  • RPA’s fraud referral team on 0800 347 347 or email
  • Action Fraud (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime) on 0300 123 2040

Source: Rural Payments Agency

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