People who receive benefits but have not yet been moved on to Universal Credit are being warned of a scam that fools people into making the switch and then steals their money.
We are making tenants and customers aware of the scam, which claims to offer people low-cost Government loans and grants that don’t exist.
Head of income Paul Moretta said: “Fraudsters may ask for proof of your ID, your bank details and a fee, then use these details to make a false Universal Credit claim in your name. They then request an advance payment and take the money. They might even use your details to commit other types of fraud afterwards.
“If it happens to you, not only will your current benefits be stopped and replaced with Universal Credit - and you won’t be able to switch back - but you will also have to pay back the money the scammers took.”
To keep yourself and your money safe from fraudsters, follow this advice:
Never give money to anyone who calls unannounced at your home, approaches you in public, or who contacts you by phone, letter or email
Never share personal information with anyone, even if they claim to be an official.
Always ask to see identification. Don’t be afraid to double check this by calling any phone number on their ID, business card or paperwork. If they are genuine, they will not mind you taking the time to do this.
It is a criminal offence to knowingly provide false information on a benefit claim. If somebody forces you to do this, it could affect the benefits you already receive, and you could be prosecuted.
'Low-cost Government loans' do not exist. If you are in need of financial assistance and have been on benefits for longer than six months, you could apply for a Budgeting Loan (or Budgeting Advance in Universal Credit) – this has to be repaid.
For more information and advice about Universal Credit, call the UC Helpline on 0800 328 5644 or contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau. Plus Dane customers can contact their financial independence team.
If you, or someone you know, have been targeted by fraudsters, help is available. Contact actionfraud.police.uk, call the Police on 101, or get in touch with Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.