DWP warning as your bank account and social media could be checked

Benefit fraud investigator discusses fraudster claiming over £50k

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The action is specifically related to investigations for benefit fraud, designed to protect the system from being exploited. While the vast majority of people claim fairly and following the system’s rules, others are sadly taking advantage. 

The DWP has previously shared the details of its latest plan to crackdown on benefit fraud.

Entitled the “Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System” plan, it involves the creation of a new 2,000 strong team.

These workers will review entitlements and circumstances of claims, especially for Universal Credit, deemed by the Department as at risk of being incorrect.

Individuals are considered as committing benefit fraud if they claim benefits they are not entitled to on purpose.

This includes not reporting a change in circumstances, or providing false information.

Those who are suspected of benefit fraud can expect to be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Benefits may stop if an individual is being investigated, but if this occurs they should get a letter to tell them.

As part of an investigation, Britons could be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs).

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It is their responsibility to gather facts about the case, and decide whether to take further action.

Others may be asked to attend an “interview under caution” to talk about their claim.

Some tip offs and reports about benefit fraud will turn out to be false, so the DWP undertakes checks to ensure time is not wasted.

Sadly, if a report is false, there is not much a person can do except cooperate fully. 

Investigators are, however, permitted to gather various types of evidence to build a picture of someone’s life and see if benefit fraud is taking place.

This can include financial data such as bank statements, audio recordings, photographs, videos and interviews with a person or people they know.

Investigators also have powers to check a person’s social media accounts such as their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This is because social media can often provide a bigger picture of someone’s life, including the events they’ve attended, location check-ins and other evidence which could be useful to them.

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If it is found this is not consistent with the details of a person’s claim for benefits, then this evidence could potentially be used in the case against them.

If a person is found to have committed or attempted fraud, one of the following may happen:

  • The person will be told to pay back the overpaid money
  • The person may be taken to court or asked to pay a penalty
  • The person’s benefits may be reduced or stopped.

Only certain benefits can be reduced or stopped, but if a person is found to have committed fraud on a benefit that can’t be reduced or stopped, their other benefits can be reduced instead.

Some benefits which could be stopped include Carer’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Pension Credit and Universal Credit. 

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