Could you be guilty of benefit fraud without knowing it?
Sometimes people can be guilty of benefit fraud without even knowing it. It may be the fact that your circumstances have changed and this means that you’re entitled to a different amount of benefits than you were originally.
What is benefit fraud?
Benefit fraud in the UK is basically when somebody is accused of abusing their right to claim benefits. The most common cases of benefit fraud unearth when an individual:
- Does not report a change in circumstances
- Provides false information on a benefits claim
What are the repercussions of benefit fraud?
If you are accused of benefit fraud, there are several repercussions that can come of a result of this, the most common are:
- You can be told to pay back the money that you were originally paid but not entitled to
- You may be taken to court or asked to pay a penalty (which can range between £350 and £5,000)
- Your benefits (if you are still eligible to claim some) may be reduced or stopped all together
The process of an accusal of benefit fraud usually begins with a claim being made against you and you’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority.
You may then be asked to attend an interview with Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) to talk about your claim – this is legally known as an ‘interview under caution’. The FIOs will then gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action.
Your benefits may be temporarily halted whilst the investigation is underway, therefore if you believe you have been wrongly accused it is best to get in touch with DPP Law today who have a host of specialist benefit fraud solicitors and we’ll get you on track.
How can you be convicted of benefit fraud?
If you have had a change in circumstances and you don’t declare it, you can land yourself in a whole load of trouble. Here are some of the most common reasons people can unknowingly commit benefit fraud:
- They are now living with a partner and haven’t declared this
- They have not let the council know they are working (even if it is part-time)
- They have stopped actively updating the council that they are seeking jobs
- They have miscalculated their household income
- They have not made the council aware of whether their children are still dependant or not
- They have not declared whether a ‘spare’ bedroom is lived in or not (this would be bedroom tax fraud)
If you have been convicted of benefit fraud and need more advice, DPP Law are on hand to help you every step of the way and advise you throughout your legal process – contact us today.