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Welsh farmers get up to speed on scam awareness

The Pembrokeshire branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales in conjunction with Pembrokeshire County Council and Dyfed Powys Police, held a successful information day to help farmers get up to speed on scam awareness.

The event was held at Mountain Farm, Haverfordwest, and heard from Sandra McSparron and Rebecca Elliott, Trading Standards Consumer Safeguarding Team, Pembrokeshire County Council, as well as Paul Callard, Dyfed Powys Police Financial Crime Team.

FUW Pembrokeshire CEO Rebecca Voyle said:

“This was an excellent opportunity for farmers to find out about telephone, mail and online scams which affect rural communities. I would like to thank Sandra McSparron, Rebecca Elliott and Paul Callard very much for their valuable contributions.

“Farms are being increasingly targeted because often individuals are isolated and are viewed as being vulnerable and therefore more likely to fall foul of fraud. A large proportion of fraud crimes involve criminal gangs targeting specific groups, including the agricultural community and I hope the information given out at this information event will help our members be more aware of potential scams.”

Sandra McSparron and Rebecca Elliott, told farmers that both businesses and consumers can become victims of a scam.  

“Once people respond to one scam they will be added to a “suckers” list and they will be inundated by scams.  The list will not just be used by the original scammers it will also be sold on to others, so please think before responding to any unexpected mail, e-mails, phone calls and door step traders,” said Sandra McSparron.

“Never make any rushed decisions and don’t feel pressured into making a decision.  If, for example, a telephone caller is genuine they will allow you time to think about things and for you to be able to call them back.

“When phoning back always make sure that you use a trusted number which you have on paperwork that you have previously received from the company concerned, e.g. your bank, BT.  In addition, always leave at least 10 minutes before using your landline again to make any outbound calls to the company, or ideally use a mobile phone to do so. This will ensure that the line has been cleared and that the original caller is not still on the line intercepting the call,” said Rebecca Elliott.

Paul Callard, Dyfed Powys Police Financial Crime Team, said: “It is important to remember that everyone can be vulnerable to scams. The people who carry them out are convincing, it is what they do for a day job.  But there is assistance out there from Trading Standards and the police. Please remember that it is important to report scams, no matter how small, so that they can be fully investigated and to ensure that support is given to the individuals concerned.  

“No one should feel embarrassed, foolish, ashamed or suicidal that they are a victim of a scam, it can happen to anyone and there are people you can talk to about it.”

He further advised farmers that if they receive an email from a company that they trade with saying that the company has changed its bank account details and asking them to amend the details for BACS/DD payment transfers not to do anything, until they had rung the company and checked with them first.

With regards to online banking, he added: “Don’t use your computer to access your online bank account.  Instead use the bank’s own app on your phone as the security measures are constantly updated on the app, unlike website access through a computer.”

The importance of keeping up to date with the security on your computer and regularly backing up information, at least once a week, was also highlighted, along with advice to never click on a link received in an e-mail.

Following the event, Rebecca Voyle said: “If you know lonely, isolated people who may be vulnerable to fraud, try and help them by talking to them.  Also talk to the police, trading standards or even FUW who can then act as a go between.”