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EASY access to information about Scottish farmers’ Basic Payments has made them prime targets for cyber crime, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre has warned.

At the end of October, payments worth £254million were issued to farmers and crofters across the country, and SBRC advised farmers to be “extra vigilant” regarding their internet safety, including being aware of suspicious emails or phone calls.

Chief ‘ethical hacker’ with the SBRC, Gerry Grant, said: “I know how vital these payments are to the livelihood of farmers and crofters. This makes it even more important that they’re fully aware that it can make them an easy target for criminals to try and scam them.

“Criminals can easily work out an accurate estimation of what a farmer is likely to receive in CAP payments and armed with this information, they can try and steal the money. They can send various emails to try and get passwords for bank accounts or even try and trick unsuspecting farmers into making payments to the wrong account.”

The types of emails and calls farmers may receive will generally consist of them being asked to take urgent action regarding their finances/bank accounts. SBRC said that any unusual emails or phone calls should be investigated fully, and the contact details should be verified before any action is taken.

Things to look out for include:

• Emails from suppliers asking for funds to be transferred to a different bank account;

• Emails claiming that there is a problem with an account;

• Phone calls from banks saying that there appears to be unusual activity on their account.