In this brief guide, we will address the concern “Can DWP check my Facebook?”, as well as other queries people have about DWP, like How do I know when I’m being investigated by the DWP, or can DWP access my phone?
Can DWP Check Your Facebook?
Yes, DWP can check your Facebook, but they may not necessarily do it to just about anyone, rather to those who have either applied for a benefit, are contesting a benefit in some way, or those who have been found to be engaging in wrongdoing.
The Social Security Administration Act allows agencies like the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to check facebook or other social media accounts of those they are investigating, or even those who are currently in the process of claiming benefits.
However, this does not mean that the DWP can hack into your facebook or see things that only you can see, but it does mean that they can look through what you post on social media and corroborate it with the things you have said on your forms or in your assessment.
For instance, if you have applied for a Personal Independence Payment benefit, (PIP), the DWP may check your facebook if they find discrepancies in your paperwork to ensure that you are in fact struggling with the disability you say you are.
Whether you have recently applied for a benefit or not, whether you have done something wrong or not, the important thing is to be careful about social media use in general, and if you do apply for a scheme with the DWP, make sure you go through your profile properly and remove anything that can be misconstrued or used against you.
Sometimes you may also put things on your facebook that may show that you are doing better than you are, like laughing at a party when you were actually depressed or trying to be physically active when you actually had severe pain, but sometimes those pictures may not speak a thousand words, and they can be taken as evidence against you and taken to mean that you don’t have a problem.
There have also been many instances of fraud cases where the main evidence is from Facebook and the investigating agency uses stationary photos from a wedding or an odd holiday as evidence that the person is not really in as much trouble as they make out to be.
In most cases the DWP checks facebook when they are investigating people who are receiving benefits like DLA, ESA or PIP, and when they already suspect fraud is being committed.
This is the reason that most lawyers or organizations like Citizens Advice tell people to ensure there are no public photos that may be misconstrued showing on their FB or twitter.
There are many people who are accused of fraudulently claiming based on what they have posted, or had posted, long ago, on facebook, twitter or other social media sites.
However, there are also many private platforms away from facebook, that you can contact if you are worried about the DWP checking your facebook or finding evidence of things you didn’t do as proof that you don’t deserve the allowance or benefit you are receiving.
This account of someone who helped someone else through such a debacle shows how problematic it can be if DWP checks your facebook and finds something to use against you:
“I even had a lady who was generally in a wheelchair dragged into a compliance visit after a wedding photo of her stood, (what they didn’t see was her friends were holding her up) was used as evidence. She won her case after dragging 3 of the friends into court to give evidence, however it took a year, she lost her DLA and car and part time job in the process as had been accused of fraud.”
If you are worried about DWP checking your facebook because you are applying for a benefit or are in any situation otherwise that may cause you problems, like an investigation by the DWP, make sure to not only check through photos you have posted, but also the additional tagged and album photos, or any photos that may have migrated to your facebook through another account, like Instagram to facebook.
Also, just to be on the safer side, always make sure that you keep your security settings on facebook at the maximum possible level, and this is not just for when the DWP might check your facebook, but also in general, so that you can rest easy knowing that your data is being shared only with your friends.
Can DWP Access My Phone?
No, the DWp cannot access your phone for an investigation, unless it has been mentioned explicitly in the investigation that the person is being investigated for more than just benefit fraud or to ascertain the validity of their claims.
For one thing, you may not know that you are being investigated by the DWP until you are in the later stages of the investigation, and they may only notify you of the fact when they already have some evidence of fraud or wrongdoing against you.
However, if you have any reason to believe that you may be under watch or being investigated, make sure you talk to an organization like citizens advice of fightback4justiceUK, and get their opinion on your particular case.
The situation with phones and DWP investigations is a bit more complicated than the DWP checking facebook or other social media, because while the latter is merely going through readily available data and information that others can also see, the former involves a glance through the person’s most intimate thing.
The DWP benefit fraud investigators also need to get legal permission to access the phones of those they suspect of defrauding the DWP, which is not something that is easily given when a citizen of the UK is involved.
Accessing someone’s phone is considered extremely intrusive and not even the DWP has the unfiltered power to do so, and this type of evidence collection may be used only in the investigation of serious crime, the economic well-being of the UK or in the interests of national security.
Since none of the aforementioned problems are under the purview of benefit fraud investigations, the chances of the DWP accessing your phone for the sake of some evidence are very slim.
Accessing the phone of someone who is being investigated by the DWP for benefit fraud will very rarely be granted to the DWP, and in the exceptional case that it does happen, one may contest this using the Human Rights Act.
What is a DWP Investigation?
A DWP investigation may be done when the DWP has any evidence whatsoever that you have either tried to defraud the DWP in terms of the benefits you are trying to claim, or even in cases when someone reports you to the DWP for some wrongdoing.
The DWP is a government agency that takes care of welfare, pensions, and child maintenance for over 20 million individuals and most of the investigations conducted by the DWP are related to fraud related to the same things.
In England and Wales, fraud is a very broad offence, governed, for the most part, by the Fraud Act 2006.
The Fraud Act specifies three main types of fraud and these are the instances for which the fraud investigators in the DWP look for evidence:
- fraud by failure to disclose information when there is a legal duty to do so
- fraud by abuse of position
- fraud by false representation
Someone can also be charged with one of the above fraud offences without actually having caused any loss to the victim of the fraud, in this case, a government agency like the DWP.
That means that if someone plans to or tries to defraud the system does not succeed and actually get the benefit they were trying to get, they can still be fined or sent to prison for a fraud offence.
Fraud that is related to wrongful claiming of benefits and such can be alleged when the person claiming the benefit does not report a change in circumstances or by providing false information.
Some examples of benefits fraud include:
- falsifying accounts to make it seem like a person has less money than they say they do
- faking an illness or physical damage to get unemployment or disability benefits
- living with someone who contributes to the household income without declaring that income to the authorities
- failing to report income from a business or employment to make income seem lower than it actually is
In this brief guide, we addressed the concern “Can DWP check my Facebook?”, as well as other queries people have about DWP, like How do I know when I’m being investigated by the DWP, or can DWP access my phone?
The Department of Work and Pensions oversees many of the important aspects of the workforce, and they ascertain what benefits go to which person, which are crucial decisions and need to be made with the utmost discretion.
However, given that it is a governmental agency, the DWP can often be shrouded in menacing mystery, and the ordinary person who has no dealings with every aspect of government may not know completely what they can legally do.
Therefore, if you have any further questions like “Can the DWP check my Facebook?” or “can the DWP check my phone?”, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can the DWP check my Facebook?
How do I know if I’m being investigated by DWP?
You will know if you are being investigated by the DWP through post, telephone or email, because if the DWP does investigate you they usually notify you through whatever channel of communication is available to you.
Most of the people who are being investigated by the DWP receive the information via post.
Can DWP check your bank account?
Yes, the DWP can check your bank account if they are investigating you or if there is evidence of wrongdoing against you.
The DWP may check your bank account as part of their complete investigation into your financial records, which may also include bills and mortgage accounts. The Social Security Administration Act allows the authorities to collect information about people they are investigating or against whom they have evidence.
Can the DWP watch your house?
Yes, the DWP can watch your house, specifically, Benefit investigators from the DWP are allowed to watch your house if you are being investigated for any sort of fraudulent behavior or when they want to ascertain what the real circumstances of someone’s lifestyle are or who comes and goes or lives with them.