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Can the DWP legally access my bank account without permission?

SMW83SMW83 Member Posts: 96 Courageous
Hi all,

Very long and protracted story so I will keep to the fact.

After reassessment for PIP and ESA where my benefits were reduced substantially, I had to borrow from family to cover outgoings, which were paid into my bank account.

I was today contacted by a Compliance Officer at the DWP who has accessed my bank account and  requested explanation as to the payments into
my bank account.

Are they legally allowed to do this? 

Replies

  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    @SMW83

    I suggest that you re-post in Ask a benefits advisor.
  • SMW83SMW83 Member Posts: 96 Courageous
    @Matilda Thank you. I did earlier today and am awaiting response but was hoping for clarification asap as this incident has concerned me greatly.
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    edited June 2017
    @SMW83

    I'm not surprised that you are concerned. Hope that you receive an answer soon.
    Don't let the DWP wear you down - it's what they want.
  • JusticeJustice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @SMW83 Hi , no wonder you want an answer fast on this one. I am agog to see what the answer is too, it is not something that has even entered my head before. I know that if they have been paying you too ,much they can take the money back, having all the payment details, but I would not have thought they could actually look at your statements without your permission. I don't KNOW this, but it seems a big invasion of privacy to me. Please do let us know what the answer is when you hear from a Benfits Adviser. Thanks :-)
  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    In short yes.

    They have the right to investigate any potential fraud.

    You might find this interesting:

    https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2014/11/24/im-a-civil-servant-and-i-investigate-fraud/

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • SMW83SMW83 Member Posts: 96 Courageous
    @Geoark

    Thank you for your reply.

    My 'situation' is extremely complex and far too lengthy to explain here but I feel I am being unfairly targeted by the DWP, having been contacted 10 times regarding change in circumstance, them requesting I reapply for my benefits etc, owing to making my local MP aware of the malpractices I was subjected to by the DWP whilst undertaking the appeals process to have my PIP reinstated after a reassessment.

    Can I request explanation/proof of the grounds they have to suspect fraud? This to me seems like another attempt to disprove my entitlement to benefits in what seems like a retaliatory response to my MP's involvement.
  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    edited June 2017
    @SMW83

    First a huge disclaimer, I am not legally trained or trained on welfare benefits. My first advice would always be to get trained advice.

    You can of course ask why they felt it necessary to request your bank statements, but at this point would avoid the use of the word fraud.

    That said you do need to understand that they are currently looking for information and explanation which could potentially lead to a fraud investigation and possible prosecution. IE This may happen, not it will happen.

    With this in mind any response should be in writing and you need to keep a copy of anything you send or receive.

    Beyond this I am going to revert back to my standard first advice and strongly suggest you get informed advice. If you had support in dealing with the original problems they will be aware of the circumstances and better able to continue helping you. If not Scope have a free advice line 0808 800 3333, please use it soon if you need to

    @Sam_Scope any other advice?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,729 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @SMW83  I would say to chat with the Scope helpline on 0808 800 3333 or speak to The Law Centre.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    SMW83,

    The DWP do have the power to require information from banks and the purpose is quite wide - it can include simply checking whether benefit was or is being paid in accordance with the law.

    Any query about access to your personal data can be referred to the Information Commissioner.  You can ask them what they think about all this (see their contact details here) and complain if applicable.

    Of course you can also complain to the DWP. I would agree that it's unwise to use the term 'fraud' in making your complaint. Your DWP complaint should focus on the unnecessary requests they have been making of you. These are obviously stressful for you, and they seem to go far beyond what the DWP need to do to make sure your benefits are accurate. I'd be specific about any additional health problems (anxiety etc) that they have caused as this will help to demonstrate it's unreasonable - and maybe get your local MP involved again?

    Just on a simple point however - if you've been given voluntary contributions by family, intended to be made irregularly, then these count as capital (savings) so they shouldn't affect your entitlement to any income-based benefits (such as irESA) unless they take your savings above the capital limit of £6,000. If the contributions are made on a regular basis, they are simply ignored. 

    So there really shouldn't be anything to worry about. It's definitely worth complaining about unreasonable continued requests for information by the DWP though.

    Will





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