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Benefit fraud

What it is

When someone claims a state benefit, grant or credits that they’re not entitled to.

They may lie about their circumstances or pose as somebody else to claim any of a number of other benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, heating and housing or care and disability, or to avoid paying for medicals bills such as prescriptions or dental care.

Spot the signs

  • If you’re told you are claiming benefits when you are not it could mean that you have been a victim of identity theft and claims have been made in your name.
  • If you’ve applied for state housing and been told you do not qualify in your area, but have had housing before, you may have had your identity stolen by someone committing benefit fraud.

How it happens

Benefit fraudsters lie about their circumstances to claim money from the government in housing benefit, disability allowances or carer’s allowances.

They claim for more than they are entitled to, or they may not be entitled to it at all. They may fail to tell the authorities about a change in their circumstances that mean they are no longer entitled to the same level of benefits. Sometimes they use somebody else's information to make a claim for themselves.

Child benefit fraud and guardian’s allowance fraud both involve fraudulently claiming benefits set aside for childcare. Parents, carers or guardians involved in these types of frauds lie about their child’s circumstances in order to get extra benefit allowance, or fail to declare details that would prevent them from claiming any benefit at all. For example, their child may have left home, or left school after they’re 16 years old and started work. Some fraudsters also claim child benefit or guardian’s allowance for made-up children that do not exist.

How to report it

If you think someone has committed benefit fraud by stealing your identity and details, you’re not to blame but you need to report it as soon as possible.