Over 20 million people across the country are claiming some form of benefit, but these payments could be stopped if you fail to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about some changes in your life.
Some claimants don't realise they may be committing benefit fraud, by not informing the DWP about changes in their circumstances.
The DWP's definition of benefit fraud is when “someone obtains state benefit they are not entitled to or deliberately fails to report a change in their personal circumstances.”
The most common form of benefit fraud is when a person receives unemployment benefits, while working – reports the Daily Record.
Another is when benefit claimants say that they live alone, but they are financially supported by a partner or spouse.
Failing to inform the state about a "change of circumstances", for example, that your partner is now living with you, or that you have moved house, or that a relative has died, leaving you some money may also be fraud by omission.
But one of the most overlooked, and easily done, is not telling the DWP of a change in your address.
Benefit payments are made into claimants’ bank or building society accounts, which means many don’t think informing the DWP of a change in their address is important – or necessary.
But it could have serious consequences and result in payments being stopped while a fraud investigation is conducted.
Most changes in circumstances can be reported online, so don’t delay in contacting, DWP, HMRC or your local job centre.
Examples of benefit fraud
failing to report that you're working
failing to report a change of address
failing to report the full amount of your income, savings or capital
claiming benefit as a single person when you live with a partner
claiming benefit for an address you don't live at
claiming benefit when you have no right to
What happens if I'm reported?
If you're accused of committing benefit fraud you'll be contacted by the DWP.
A Benefits or Fraud Investigation Officer may visit you to talk about your benefit claim.
Your benefit may be stopped while under investigation. If this happens, you'll get a letter telling you what will happen next.
If proof of benefit fraud is identified:
you may be formally cautioned
an administrative penalty may be imposed
the case may be referred to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to prosecution
The DWP always recovers any fraudulent overpayment.