In reality, these individuals are submitting a digital Universal Credit claim for you and requesting advance payments – effectively requesting benefit payments that you may not be entitled to, without your knowledge or permission.
By doing this, an advance payment is made, of which the fraudster keeps a certain amount, passing the rest on to you.
This means that either a fraudulent claim for Universal Credit is being made on your behalf, or you are being paid only some of the money you were already entitled to. In either case, you will eventually need to pay the money back in full to the Department of Work and Pensions and you may also be fined or convicted for benefit fraud.
The people operating this scheme are very credible. They are well-dressed, look professional and are carrying what appears to be official ID, which makes it easy to believe they are genuine.
Other things being offered are low cost loans or insulation grants. People are being asked for proof of identification, such as passports and national insurance numbers, in order to process these. These are also fraud schemes that you should refuse.
What should you do?
If you’re approached by someone offering you money as part of a similar scheme, do not provide any personal details or documents. Protecting your information is the simplest way to reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud.
Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think you’ve been affected you should contact our Customer Support team on 0161 219 7183.
You can also speak to the DWP’s fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040 or you can speak to Crimestoppers confidentially and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website.