Farmers have been alerted to the risk of fraud and cybersecurity attacks as Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) cash will soon start arriving into bank accounts.
The BPS payments window will open on Wednesday 1 December and farmers in England should be particularly wary of any suspicious calls, texts or emails around this time.
See also: What to do if you’re a victim of…fraud
Fraudsters may target farmers who receive subsidy payments, and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) said it was aware that in the past some customers had received emails, texts and telephone calls claiming to be from the RPA or Defra.
Links to a fake website designed to look like an authentic RPA or Defra online service are sometimes included in the message.
Richard Wordsworth, the NFU’s senior BPS adviser, urged farmers to keep an eye on day-to-day transactions and calls, especially where there is a change or anything unplanned or expected.
He added: “At any time of the year farmers like any business or individual are at risk of fraud against them. My advice is to follow the guidance given by the RPA and take any action as directed by this advice.”
The NFU has also partnered with the National Cyber Security Centre to produce an online booklet to support farmers in preventing and reporting cybercrime.
In Wales, the majority of farmers received 70% of their BPS cash on Friday 15 October. The Welsh government said it paid more than £159.6m in advance payments to about 15,600 farm businesses – 97% of claimants.
Balancing and full payments will be made from 15 December, once claims have been validated.
More than £301m in direct payments were issued to 23,393 farmers in Northern Ireland (98% of eligible applicants) on 18 October.
The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said at the time that outstanding claims will continue to be verified and paid accordingly.
Steps to prevent being a victim of fraud
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will never call or send texts or emails asking for confirmation of personal details or payment information.
The RPA issued this advice to reduce the chances of being scammed:
If you suspect an attempted fraud or feel you have been the subject of fraud, you can contact: