Universal Credit scams

People are being targeted by scammers offering government loans and grants linked to Universal Credit claims. If you become a victim, this money will need to be repaid. Find out how you might be targeted, how to avoid a scam and what you can do if you need help applying for a government grant or loan.

What is a Universal Credit scam?

The main way a Universal Credit scam works is someone offering to apply for a Universal Credit Advance Payment on your behalf and taking some of the money as a fee.

They’ll often tempt you by suggesting this is free money from the government.

A Universal Credit Advance Payment can be up to a full month’s Universal Credit payment. Scammers take a large chunk for their services – 40% or more.

How might you be contacted by a Universal Credit scammer?

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There are many ways a Universal Credit scammer might approach you.

Some people have reported being approached in person by smartly dressed people claiming to be from Jobcentre Plus.

Others have been contacted online through social media groups, direct messages and adverts.

People have also been approached online by someone claiming to have a friend who works at a Jobcentre, who’ll be able to process or approve the application on your behalf.

Some of these companies have professional-looking social media profiles and websites, with testimonials and government logos.

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Why shouldn’t you let someone apply for you?

There’s no need to pay someone to apply for an Advance Payment on your behalf. And there are two other serious problems if you let them do this.

First, you have to repay the entire advance back to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This includes the money the scammer charged you as a fee.

This comes out of your future Universal Credit payments, which could leave you short of money.

Also, if you do need an Advance Payment, you’re losing some of the money you could be getting by paying someone to apply for you.

Second, it can also create serious problems if you’re not yet claiming Universal Credit and you could end up even worse off than you intended.

How to avoid a Universal Credit scam

You can only get an Advance Payment if you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment. So the way you’ll be targeted might be slightly different.

If you’ve applied for Universal Credit

If you’ve already applied for Universal Credit, but are still waiting for your first payment, scammers will apply for an Advance Payment on your behalf. They’ll take some of the money as a fee.

They’ll ask you for your Universal Credit login details. They’ll also claim to have some kind of inside access, such as a friend working at the Jobcentre Plus, who can approve these payments quickly.

If you’re already getting benefits

If you’re already getting benefits, but not Universal Credit, scammers will first offer to make a claim for Universal Credit on your behalf. Or they might claim they can apply for a loan or grant – but instead make a Universal Credit application for you.

The benefits Universal Credit is replacing are:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit.

If you allow someone to apply for Universal Credit for you, these benefits will stop. Depending on your circumstance, you could end up being worse off than you are now because of the way Universal Credit is worked out.

To do this, scammers will ask for personal information so they can make the claim online. For example, they might ask your proof of identity, bank account details and National Insurance number.

If you’re not claiming any benefits

Some people can’t claim Universal Credit. For example, full-time students, people who get the Severe Disability Premium of Employment and Support Allowance, and people with more than £16,000 in savings.

However, these people are also being targeted by Universal Credit scammers.

Scammers are likely to make this sound as if it’s free money. They’ll offer to make a claim for Universal Credit on your behalf when you might not qualify for it.

If you do need to make a claim for Universal Credit, you can ask your work coach if you need to make a claim for an Advance Payment while you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment. They’ll will tell you how to do this.

You’ll also be asked to go into your local jobcentre with proof of identity before the payment will be made.

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Getting the right help to apply for Universal Credit or an Advance Payment

If you do need help applying for Universal Credit or an Advance Payment, you can contact the Citizens Advice Help to Claim Service.

The service is free and confidential, and you can get help in your local area. It’s available to everyone and is useful to use if you’re not sure whether you should claim Universal Credit.

Citizens Advice Help to Claim service

England and Wales

For more details, go to Citizens Advice

Or, in England, call 0800 144 8444. In Wales, call 0800 024 1220.

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Universal Credit works differently. Find out more at nidirect

What to do if you’ve been targeted by a Universal Credit scam

If you’ve been targeted, even if you haven’t become a victim, you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Or report it on Action Fraud

It’s also important to report it to your Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible too.

If you’ve been targeted or become a victim after you’ve been contacted online, use the reporting tool on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. Your report might help stop someone else being scammed.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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