Benefit fraud is theft

  • It is a criminal offence and happens when someone deliberately does not tell the truth so that they can get a benefit, or when they knowingly or dishonestly get more benefit than they should
  • Whether just a few pounds of extra benefit or thousands of pounds over a period of months or years - it is still a criminal offence when someone gives false information or fails to tell us when their circumstances change
  • Someone who has committed benefit fraud can be prosecuted and if convicted, they will have a criminal record

Common types of benefit fraud include failing to tell us about a change of circumstances that will affect a claim or giving false information in relation to a benefit claim. This includes people who do not report that:

  • They are now living with a partner
  • They have started to work or started to earn money
  • They are getting a private or works pension, or any other income
  • They have savings or do not report the right amount
  • They have inherited or come into money
  • They are receiving other benefits
  • They have changed address, are going abroad or living abroad
  • Someone has joined or left their household

Other types of fraud include people sending us false or misleading documents to support their claim or when they collude with other people such as landlords to get the extra benefit they are not entitled to.

How to report fraudulent activity

Help us to safeguard your money to ensure that help only goes to those who are entitled to receive it.

If you know of any person who may be committing benefit fraud, please report it. You do not need to give your name and address but you do need to give us sufficient detail, together with any evidence you may have, to enable us to carry out a full investigation.

How to report fraud

  • If you have access to the internet you can go to National Benefit Fraud online form and complete the details of the suspect and the type of fraud they are allegedly committing.
  • If you would rather report the fraud by telephone, please call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 who will gather and record details of the suspected fraud.
  • If you prefer to report any suspected fraud in writing please write to:
    PO Box 224
    PR1 1GP

What happens if fraud is found

We will only take action if we find the person has been committing benefit fraud. If there are grounds for legal proceedings, we can consider a sanction. The sanctions that we can use are:

  • Prosecution - carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and an unlimited fine
  • Administrative Penalty - an extra amount of money (calculation based upon the amount and period of offence) which is payable in addition to repayment of any overpaid benefit
  • Formal Caution - given as an alternative to prosecution in less serious cases, but only when someone admits the offence and shows regret for their actions

In each case where fraud has been proven, the person will have to pay back any benefit that they should not have received.

Last updated: Monday, 31 October 2022 11:00 am