5 Tips to prepare for your informal interview
If you’ve been accused of benefit fraud and invited to attend an interview, try not to panic. The reason for this interview is so that the investigators can assess your case, and gather any evidence that gives them a reason to believe that you’re falsely claiming benefits.
We’ve put together a list of five ways to prepare for your interview, so that you can walk in feeling equipped to handle whatever the investigators say.
Don’t ignore the letter
The worst thing you can do if you receive a letter inviting you for an informal interview is bury your head in the sand. Ignoring the letter and throwing it in the bin will not make it go away, doing this will only serve to make you look more guilty in the eyes of the investigators.
Benefit fraud is classed as a serious offence, and people do not receive letters inviting them to attend an informal interview for no reason. It could be that someone who believes you are falsely claiming your benefits has reported you to the authorities, or it could be that you’ve overlooked reporting a change in your circumstances. Regardless of why, the authorities have a reason to accuse you of fraud, so it’s in your best interests to co-operate with their enquiries.
There will be a time and date for the interview in your letter, if you can’t make this time, you need to call the contact number provided and arrange an appointment that’s suitable.
Once you’ve arranged an interview, you’ll need to start gathering evidence that will support your case. The type of evidence you’ll need to gather depends on why you’re being investigated, but if there’s anything you think will help your case, put it in a folder and take it to your interview.
One of the most common reasons why people find themselves being accused of benefit fraud is that the father / mother of their children frequently visits. Sometimes, especially if this person stays overnight a couple of times a week, this can be enough to arouse suspicion from the authorities. In this situation, gather any evidence that proves the person does not live at your property. Examples of evidence that you could use to fight your case include:
- A council tax bill
- A utility bill
- A bank statement
- A letter from their landlord / mortgage provider
- A tenancy agreement
This list is by no means exhaustive, and should only be used as an example of the sort of evidence you can take into your interview.
Seek legal advice
Before your interview, it’s important that you obtain legal advice from a professional, preferably someone who has experience in benefit fraud cases. Even if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, still get legal advice and counsel anyway, as you may not actually realise that you’ve broken the law.
Many people assume that they will easily be able to put their point across in their interview, without the assistance of a legal professional. However, benefit fraud interviews can be confusing and stressful for people who don’t know the law inside and out and many people have ended up making things worse for themselves because they haven’t had a solicitor present to help them.
Here at DPP Law, we are benefit fraud experts and can offer you expert advice in preparation for your interview.
Seek advice from an independent advisor
Once you’ve gained professional legal advice, it’s advisable to also contact an independent advisor who works for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Your solicitor and independent advisor can liaise with each other about the interview and advise you of your next steps.
Ask for an appropriate adult to go with you
If you have learning difficulties, you can ask an ‘appropriate adult’ to accompany you to the interview to help you. However, we do still strongly advise you get legal advice.
If you have any questions regarding your benefit fraud interview, or you’d like to get legal advice or counsel, contact a member of our expert team to discuss your next steps.