FARMERS in Moray are being urged to be aware of a new banking scam.
NFU Scotland is appealing to its members to be wary of the scam, after it learned that a small number of Scottish farmers have been defrauded of substantial sums of money.
According to the banking sector, reports of fraudsters contacting farmers are increasing, and now that businesses have been affected, the group says that vigilance must be increased.
According to the NFU, fraudsters contact farmers claiming that they represent their bank, and that suspicious payments have been set up against their farm accounts.
They then ask farmers to provide account details to make the account secure, with the intent of illegally securing and using the funds in that account.
Colin Gordon, NFU Scotland’s finance director, said: "This is such a busy time of year for farming with lambing, calving and sowing that farmers could be easily caught out by alarming calls from people claiming to represent their bank’s fraud department. Do not fall for this.
"Representatives of the banking sector have informed us that the number of farmers receiving fake calls are increasing, and now some Scottish farmers have been tricked.
"The warning is that if you unwittingly provide your account information to the fraudsters, they will use it to strip your account."
Banks are telling farmers that a bank will never phone or email asking for online password information, or will never ask for an individual to make a payment over the phone using an online account.
On behalf of the banking sector, Craig Dickson, director for agriculture at RBS, said: ""We’ve been alerted to a scam that is directly targeting farmers via telephone. This is not unique to RBS customers but all banks and we would like everyone to be alert to this serious risk.
"The caller pretends to be from their bank or the police, advising of suspicious activity on their account.
"You will be encouraged to call the bank back ‘so you know the call is genuine’ – but the fraudsters don’t disconnect their call, so they remain on the line. They will then ask you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.
"Please keep in mind that we will never ask customers for their password, pin, card details or security information either over the phone or when they log-in to the banking system online.
"If farmers want more information on how to keep their accounts safe, they can go to http://www.rbs.co.uk/global/f/security/security-advice/common-scams.ashx for guidance.