Seven Signs of Profit Fraud Wanted in Bank Accounts and Social Media
Bank and social media accounts will be scrutinized by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as part of its crackdown on benefit fraud.
Currently, there are 23 million people on DWP payments – of which 12.4 million are claiming state pensions and nearly 6 million are claiming universal credit.
There are also 2.9 million people applying for housing allowance, 2.7 million for the personal independence payment (PIP) and 1.8 million people applying for employment and support allowance (ESA). .
However, during the pandemic, fraud and errors in Britain’s benefit system reached record levels, with an overpayment of £ 8.4bn in the last fiscal year.
The DWP estimates that 3.9% of benefit spending was overpaid during 2020/21, with £ 6.3bn of overpayments believed to be due to fraud, mainly resulting from universal credit claims , BirminghamLive reports.
Universal Credit chief executive Neil Couling said the DWP’s fraud and error investigation could see thousands of applicants approached over the next few months.
Investigators can come to your home or workplace in civilian clothes at any time if they suspect a criminal act.
In pictures via Getty Images)
They also use a wide range of powers to gather evidence such as surveillance, document searches, interviews, verifying your bank accounts, and monitoring your social media.
The DWP said: “Simply put, an overpayment is a benefit the claimant has received but is not entitled to.
“Benefit overpayments can happen in a number of ways. For the most part, they are due to error by the requester, the system or the administration.
The DWP has defined seven types of overpayments that it looks for:
- applicant’s error (non-disclosure of circumstances or incomplete form)
- deliberate fraud on the part of the applicant (failure to disclose a material fact or willful misrepresentation)
- interim payments and advances, including advances on short-term benefits that could not be recovered from the benefits for which they were paid
- Universal credit recoverable hardship payments (classified as an overpayment for collection purposes if recovery can no longer be taken from the benefit that was in place at the time of payment)
- overpayment due to late allocation of other benefits / income
- overpayments due to the operation of the Direct Payment banking system
- official error – only applies to Universal Credit and Contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance applications made on or after April 29, 2013
Getty Images / Image source)
In each of these cases, the DWP may make efforts to recover the money under Social Security legislation.
You can be sued in court where a fine of up to £ 5,000 can be imposed. A person’s benefits can be reduced for up to three years if found guilty of benefit fraud.
But not all of the benefits can be reduced or stopped – check out the full list here.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We take any abuse of taxpayer money very seriously and those who claim benefits to which they are not entitled will face criminal prosecution.
“We also have strong plans in place to recover fraudulent claims and reduce fraud and errors to the lowest possible level. “