Farmers are being warned to be vigilant and aware of fraud and cybersecurity attacks as Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments will soon start dropping into bank accounts.
The BPS payments window will open on Tuesday 1 December and farmers should be careful of any suspicious calls, texts or emails.
Fraudsters are aware of the timing of these payments and the criminals are able to directly target individuals, making their approaches appear more convincing.
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 December to June window.
‘Be on guard’
Richard Wordsworth, the NFU’s senior BPS adviser, urged farmers to be wary in the run-up to Christmas. “It is vital all the time – but even more so when farmers start to receive support payments in the form of BPS, Countryside Stewardship or HLS [Higher Level Stewardship] payments at this time of the year – to be on guard for fraudsters trying to obtain money by deception.
“Fraud comes in many forms, from the internet, over the phone and from many sources, so ensure that you keep an eye on those day-to-day transactions and calls, especially where there is change or anything unplanned or expected,” Mr Wordsworth said.
Steps to prevent being a victim of fraud
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) said it will never call or send texts or emails asking you to confirm personal details or payment information.
The RPA issued this advice to reduce the chances of being scammed:
- Never discuss your bank account details with someone you don’t know
- We won’t ask you to make a payment over the phone
- Delete any emails or texts you don’t believe are genuine
- Don’t open any links unless from our main email addresses:
- Be cautious about what information you share externally, particularly on social media
If you suspect an attempted fraud or feel you have been the subject of fraud, you can contact the RPA’s fraud referral team on 0800 347 347 or FraudInConfidence@rpa.gov.uk
Action Fraud (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime) on 0300 123 2040.