Universal Credit warning: Scam targeting advance payments costing claimants
Universal Credit usually gets paid in one monthly lump sum. In some cases, an advance payment can be received if the claimant is going through certain financial straits. These can be targeted by scammers who offer to handle the admin on behalf of the claimant.
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It is detailed that the most common scam revolves around someone offering to apply for a Universal Credit payment on the claimant’s behalf.
They may offer to do this in exchange for some of the advance as payment.
The scammer will try to confuse the victim by suggesting that the advance is “free money from the government” which isn’t true, it will need to be repaid to the state.
An advance can often cover a full months payment which can lead to scammers taking several hundreds of pounds from claimants.
The Money Advice Service warns that there are a number of ways that a scammer can approach a claimant.
There have been reports of claimants being approached physically by smartly dressed people who claim to be from a Jobcentre plus.
Other methods include being approached through social media groups, direct messages and adverts.
It can be difficult to recognise scammers for what they are as they will often have professional looking media profiles, website and testimonials
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Thankfully, there is an easy way to avoid advance themed problems.
Simply ensuring that advances are applied by the claimant alone should help to avoid any issues with scammers.
It is made clear that there is no need to pay anyone to apply for advance payments on a claimant’s behalf.
It is also relatively easy to identify a scam by the timing of it. An advance payment can only be received is a claimant is waiting for their official first payment. Being approached before this takes place should raise red flags.
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Scammers will often ask for the claimant’s personal information and log-in details which should never be revealed lightly.
Personal details should only be shared with official work coaches.
Work coaches will be able to help with all advance payment issues, including making sure it arrives on time.
This makes the need for help from external parties obsolete.
There are multiple options for people who need to seek help with anything to do with Universal Credit.
The government can be contacted directly but there are also independent organisations in place who provide free advice. This can include the Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice and Jobcentre pluses.
The Financial Conduct Authority can also be contacted to report any scams, even if the scam hasn’t actually affected the person involved.
There are even options for reporting scams via various social media. If a scam has been identified most websites will have a reporting tool available including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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