Government to use Experian data to home in on benefit cheats

HMRC turn to Experian to help battle against benefit fraud

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions have entered into an agreement with the credit reference agency Experian in order to use Experian’s credit reference data in the battle against benefit fraud.

Under a ten year deal, the financials of which have not been released, credit reference information can be accessed directly by HMRC to root out discrepencies and identify claimants who might require further investigation.

A pilot of the scheme is said to have protected £16 million of public revenues and it is estimated that savings to the tax-payer could be as high as £700 million over the life of the contract.  In one case a woman claiming to be a single mother of 4 was exposed by an application for credit showing she was living with a partner and claiming benefits illegally.

Whilst this is of course good news for taxpayers and bad news for benefit cheats, all consumers should be aware that their personal credit information is being used for additional purposes such as these.

It becomes all the more important, therefore, that consumers check their credit reports frequently.  We do not recommend joining a subscription service to access your credit report as the same information is available by requesting a statutory credit report from Experian.