Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Universal Credit – Fraud Warning

There have been a number of reports within Derbyshire of people falling victim to Universal Credit fraud. This follows an emerging national trend. We are seeking to warn local residents to be aware of the potential risks.

There have been different variations of the fraud reported within Derbyshire, and nationally. Fraudsters advertise “Government Loans” or pose as DWP officials promising an increase in benefit awards.

Loans are being advertised online and on social media and people are being asked to provide enough information for the fraudsters to make a claim for Universal Credit and obtain an advance payment. Then, either the money is paid directly to the fraudsters or the victims are asked to pay a fee for applying for the loan.

In some cases, smartly dressed people have turned up at victim’s addresses and stated that they are from the DWP and are trying to increase benefit income. They then proceed to start a claim for UC and obtain the advance payment with the information provided by the victim.

The result for victims is that their benefits stop and they may not be able to return to them. Victims may still have to repay the money despite not having benefited from it. In some cases the DWP are investigating victims under caution for benefits fraud, the ultimate penalty for which could be imprisonment.

There remains uncertainty as to whether the DWP will restore a victim’s previous benefit entitlement in cases where claims for Universal Credit have been created in their name.

We are advising all local residents to take the following steps:
  • Never disclose Universal Credit login details to anyone
  • Do not provide sensitive details (National Insurance number, date of birth, bank details etc.) to any third party
  • Exercise caution when seeing loans advertised online, especially social media
  • Treat any claim to help increase income from someone purporting to be from the DWP with suspicion

If you think that you have been a victim of such a fraud contact the police and Action Fraud as well as notifying your local Job Centre.