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Farmers targeted by BPS fraudsters

Farmers warned not to fall for scam where fraudsters persuade victims to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into their account.

Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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BPS information is publicly available making it easier for fraudsters
BPS information is publicly available making it easier for fraudsters

Farmers are being warned to be wary of fraudsters who will specifically target the agricultural sector as Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments begin to arrive in bank accounts this month.

 

Information about the payments, including the recipients’ names and the amount paid, is publically available, meaning criminals are able to target directly victims and make their approaches appear more convincing.

 

The scam communications will typically claim that fraud has been detected on the farmer’s bank account and that urgent action is required to safeguard funds.

 

The victim is then persuaded to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into a so-called ‘safe account’.

 

With some grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, in past years fraudsters have stolen significant amounts of money from their victims.

 

As well as farmers, other bodies which use farm land also receive BPS funds.

 

Rural organisations and police forces around the country have issued guidance to help farmers protect themselves from con artists.

 

Charles Ireland of Strutt and Parker’s Oxford office added: “Fraud is always distressing, but with commodity prices under pressure the last thing farmers need is to fall foul of devious and heartless criminals.”

 

Advice on how to avoid this type of scam:

  • Any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from your bank, the police, a Government body or other organisation asking for personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.
  • Cold callers who suggest you hang up the phone and call them back. Fraudsters can keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end.
  • Any request to check that the number showing on your telephone display matches an organisation’s registered telephone number. The display cannot be trusted, as the number showing can be altered by the caller.

Remember:

  • You will never be asked for your four digit PIN or your online banking password, or for you to transfer money to a new account for ‘fraud reasons’.
  • If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line, or where possible use a different phone line, then call your bank or card issuer on their advertised number to report the fraud.

Never disclose your:

  • Four digit card PIN to anyone, including the bank or police.
  • Your password or online banking codes.
  • Personal details unless you are certain you know who you are talking to.

Source: Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit

 

 

Be cautious

The Country Land and Business Association highlighted data from Financial Fraud Action UK showing the first half of 2015 saw financial fraud losses rise by six percent.

 

CLA Eastern Regional Director Ben Underwood said: “A lot of information as to who receives BPS payments is publicly 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 finger tips. Therefore it’s vital that everyone involved in running rural businesses are on alert.

 

“Be cautious if you get any call, text or email out of the blue about your BPS payments, even if they state there has been fraud on your account. 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 to use a number you have used previously and know is trustworthy.”


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