Farm organisations are warning members to "err on the side of caution" amid concerns of a heightened threat of scams and other criminal activity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It follows reports of suspicious websites being set-up advertising farm vehicles and machinery for sale that, in reality, do not exist.

NFU Cymru is concerned that given the restrictions currently in place in Wales as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, that some farmers may be duped into buying agricultural goods online from sources they would not usually consider.

What precautions should be taken?

The union issued the following advice for farmers to consider before committing to online purchases:

  • Go with what you know: Wherever possible, stick with trusted brands/websites that have a strong reputation;
  • Use a secure payment method: Paying online with a credit card means the lender is, by law, jointly liable with the retailer. If you sign your credit and debit cards up to MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa you will get an extra layer of password protection;
  • Check for the padlock when shopping online: If the website you are using uses a ‘https’ web address and carries a security padlock in the browser, it means that any data you enter is encrypted, making it harder for others to intercept;
  • Make your purchases on a secure network: If you are buying products online using a mobile device do so over a secure network, ideally a password-protected home network that only your family has access to. Don’t purchase goods online over public WiFi;
  • ‘If it seems too good to be true, it usually is’: It’s an old adage, but it still rings true. Don’t be tempted by something that could carry a risk just because the cost is appealing.

A change in buying habits

NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said: "At a time when some farmers’ buying habits may change to adapt to the current situation, we should all be wary that there are unscrupulous individuals out there who are targeting farmers through criminal and fraudulent activity.

There are many things we can all do to protect ourselves online and minimise the chances of falling victim to a scam.

"I’d encourage all farmers to heed the advice being given around online scams and exercise extra caution before committing to online purchases.”