How Benefit frauds are caught in the United Kingdom? If you have been in claiming benefits you are not entitled to, it means you are committing an offence likely to bring you under legal complications. If you have noticed someone is committing benefit fraud, you can report against him with accurate and enough proof to get the investigation initiated properly.
Benefit frauds are common in the United Kingdom and many people claim benefits they are no more entitled to and get overpayment illegitimately by hiding certain facts from the HM Revenue & Customs and other institutions which provide benefits to the citizens of the UK.
In this blog, we will discuss what benefit frauds are and how benefit frauds are caught. Moreover, we will discuss penalties and legal procedures after the benefits frauds have been detected. So, let’s dive deep into this significant information!
What are the Benefits Frauds?
Benefit frauds are the benefits you are no longer entitled to claim or do not have the right to claim these benefits. This criminal offence is committed by many people to deceive the authorities by providing inaccurate, dishonest, or false information to enjoy social benefits.
For example, many people in the United Kingdom who are actively employed, yet claim an unemployment benefit. This unlawful act causes millions of pounds to the UK’s government every year. So, if you have found someone bound to have executed this dishonest behaviour, you can report it to HMRC or the relevant organisation to save cost and money. Moreover, it will assist the government to get the rightful benefits to the deserving citizens lawfully.
How to Report Benefit Frauds?
Benefit Frauds can be reported by providing the following information:
- Name and Address
- Person’s Description
- Benefit Fraud Category and Reasons of Suspicion
- Their Employer’s Information
- Vehicle Information
- Any Helpful Additional Information
Moreover, you can report all of this information via telephone, post or by filling out an online form. You need to remember that you will not receive a quick response from the relevant institution unless the reporting has been verified or the proofs are sufficient to support your claim.
Evaluation of Benefit Fraud Report and How Benefit Frauds are Caught?
Once the reporting has been verified, the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Department of Work and Pension (DWP) and other local institutions. The authorities may contact you for further proceedings and they can investigate on their own even without informing you.
So, there might be no way of letting you know about their investigation. Even if you are the person who is being investigated, you need to contact the relevant authorities with the help of a benefits officer to provide accurate and correct information about the benefits.
The investigation procedure consists of the following steps:
- The Reported Person will be contacted by the relevant authorities.
- The benefits of the alleged person will be suspended temporarily.
- A Fraud Information Officer (FIO) will interview the person under caution.
- The Department of Work and Pension (DWP) will collect further information on the following benefits:
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
- War Pensions Scheme
- Personal Independence Payment
- Disability Living Allowance
- Bereavement Benefits
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
If the fraud is proved in any of the above allowances and benefits, the investigation will take the proceedings further, charging you with a penalty fee or imprisonment. Sometimes, you are also investigated for availing of the overpayment of benefits.
Overpayment of Benefits
Overpayment of Benefits is also considered a crime, especially when you are receiving the benefits you are no more entitled to. For example, you get a job and you continue to enjoy the unemployment benefits by getting unemployment allowances. On the other hand, you provide false information to the agency for getting benefits dishonestly.
Penalties For Benefit Frauds
Once the investigation process is complete and the allegations have been proved, you will be liable to pay a penalty or get imprisonment or both. In the case of overpayment, you will be charged 50% of the overpayment dues.
The fraud benefit penalty varies from the minimum amount of £350 to £5 000. Similarly, you can get a loss of benefits if you have been previously penalised for benefit fraud. Your benefits can be stopped for 13, 26 weeks or for three years. For identity fraud, you cannot get benefits for as long as three years.
How to Avoid Benefit Fraud?
Avoiding benefits can be tricky and stressful as you might have no idea you can be investigated for benefit fraud if you provide incorrect information accidentally. So, you must take care while providing data and information for the benefits. If it goes wrong, your benefits will be halted and you could be penalized.
Moreover, you can seek the help of the benefits specialist or benefits officers to avoid any discrepancy in the data or missing information. Similarly, you must claim the benefits with proper evidence to avoid any disputes later.
Which Benefits can be Stopped and Which ones not?
The sanctionable benefits can be reduced and stopped after you have committed benefit fraud. On the other hand, there are some other benefits that cannot be eliminated or reduced even if the benefit fraud has been approved against you. However, there are some exceptions to the benefits that cannot be stopped:
- Maternity Allowance
- Statutory Adoption Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that benefits frauds can get you in troubled waters if you fail to provide accurate, exact and complete information while claiming your benefits. If you have witnessed someone else making false claims to make an offence of benefit fraud, you can report it to DWP, HMRC or other local authorities.
Moreover, you can seek the help of a benefits expert in the United Kingdom to get instant help while claiming the benefits or during the benefit fraud investigation.
Disclaimer: All the information provided in this article on How Are Benefit Frauds Caught, including all the texts and graphics, is general in nature. It does not intend to disregard any of the professional advice.