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New scam targets farmers and ranchers

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Amarillo, TX - A new scam is targeting farmers and ranchers exclusively according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA warns scammers are trying to take advantage of those in the agriculture industry who are in need of federal financial assistance.

It all starts over the phone with scam artists impersonating farm loan service representatives from Washington, D.C. They tell clients who have applied for federal loans that the USDA's Farm Service Agency owes them disaster assistance funds. But in order to receive the loan, the scammers say they need their checking account or a credit card number to make the transfer. The Farm Service Agency says they only collect customer's financial information at their physical office and never over the phone.

"We deal with federal farm benefits, so as people come into our office and apply for assistance, there is some financial information that we might request, such as direct deposit. That's filed under lock and key at all times and protected. It doesn't go anywhere but here," said Beth Batenhorst with the Potter County Farm Service Agency.

The Farm Service Agency advises to never give out financial information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a representative of their agency.

"I would counsel everyone to just hang up the phone and call their local FSA office if they get one of these requests," said Batenhorst.

At this time, USDA officials don't know how the scammers are obtaining the contact information of farmers and ranchers who rely on the Farm Service Agency for assistance.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10
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  • Madison Alewel

    Madison Alewel

    Madison joined NewsChannel 10 as a reporter in October 2013. She comes from Las Vegas, Nevada but has strong Midwest roots.
    Madison joined NewsChannel 10 as a reporter in October 2013. She comes from Las Vegas, Nevada but has strong Midwest roots.
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