Fraud in farming

Preventing farm subsidy fraud

Get some tips to help protect yourself against financial crime, including being wary of impersonators, information seekers and unusual transactions.

December is the month that farmers start to receive subsidies under the Basic Payments Scheme (BPS)1 However, as the details of those receiving payments are available on the internet2, the risk of fraudsters targeting the farming community in particular increases at this time of year.

So what can you do? Being on your guard against potential threats is important. Getting to know a few of the tricks the criminals use can make all the difference and our Fraud Risk team have provided some useful tips to help.

Often farmers, as well as other business owners, will be targeted through telephone calls or emails from individuals. They claim to be from the customer’s bank, a business customer, or even someone in authority from within their business. The aim is to trick you into making payments, disclosing your security details or for you to allow them to access your systems so they – the fraudsters – can take your money for themselves.

Tips to protect yourself

There are a number of steps you can take to help protect yourself from the activities of the fraudsters:

Validate requests: You should never receive a phone call from your bank, the Police or other trusted organisations asking you to make a payment. If you do receive such a call from an organisation you normally do business with and do owe funds to, independently source the contact details of the person they’re claiming to be (don’t rely on a number they give you) and wait at least 5 minutes before calling back to check the initial call was authentic. Similarly, if you receive an email asking for payment or notifying you of a change in bank details, get in touch with a contact you know using independently sourced details and check the request was genuine. Email addresses can be impersonated and made to look like they’re from a genuine contact.

Be cautious against impersonators: Sometimes a fraudster might attempt to impersonate someone within your business who has the authority to request payments, or potentially a trusted contact such as a bank. Take the time to make sure callers are who they say they are and be wary of caller displays on your phone. Fraudsters can and do use systems to display a number that may be known to you, for example your bank’s or someone within your business. Be wary of callers asking you to allow access to your computer systems. Generally no one should call you and ask for access. Again independently check before progressing.

Be wary of information seekers: If someone calls you asking for information that you’d expect them to already have, be on guard. For example, your bank will never call or email asking for account details, PINs, full passwords or online banking authorisation codes.

Look out for unusual transactions: If you receive a payment into your account that you aren’t expecting, check it out. If it’s not yours, make sure that the funds are cleared before returning them, and that they go back into the account they came from. Your bank should be able to help you with this.

Read the guidelines: Make sure you’re aware of the guidance your bank has given you regarding online and mobile payments, and ensure that you and the people in your business that make payments follow them. They’re there to protect you. Ask your bank relationship contact for more details.

Keep secrets: Never give out your online credentials, PINs, passwords or authorisation codes to anybody who calls, emails or texts you.

Don’t stay silent: Talk to people in your business about fraud, raise awareness and make sure everyone is aware of the risks and how to guard against the threats.

Don’t be rushed: Criminals will often express urgency and offer inducements to make you act quickly, but make sure you take the time to thoroughly check any requests to make payments or to amend payment details. Ignore any requests to move money to a new account to keep it safe, as your bank will never ask you to do this.

For further guidance on this important issue, see the police’s DCPCU website and check out the Little Book of Big Scams Business Edition from the Metropolitan Police.

Delayed BPS payments? We can help

The farming industry has been assured that a high level of payments will be made in the first few weeks of the payment window, which opens on 1 December. However, there is always the possibility of delay. Barclays Agriculture could help you with a facility increase to help see you through until the funds are paid3. If you think your business is going to be affected by late payment, talk to your Barclays Agricultural Manager as soon as possible to discuss your options and find out how we can help.

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