How to avoid benefit and housing fraud

Remember to tell us about changes before it's too late.

  • You need to tell us everything

    Most people who get income or housing support tell us everything about their situation so we can work out the correct amount they're entitled to.

    It's important to tell us about changes that affect your entitlement. If you don't, you could find yourself in the situation of being investigated for fraud.

    Fraud is where you have intentionally misled us to receive money you are not entitled to. It is not fraud if you have received money from us and spent it but did not intentionally mislead us.

    Fraud is taken very seriously and can have severe consequences:

    • You may be restricted from using our phone and online channels
    • You may have a decrease in the amount you get from us
    • You may have to pay back any money you weren’t entitled to
    • You may face criminal prosecution – this can mean a fine or being sentenced to community service or imprisonment (on top of having to pay back any money you owe us).

    A conviction for fraud is very serious and can affect your job or future job prospects, your ability to travel overseas and your ability to get a loan, credit or insurance.

  • If we have concerns about your entitlement to payments

    In most cases we’ll contact you first to request more information about your situation and talk to you about our concerns.

    We may request information from others before we talk with you. This can include financial institutions, employers, property managers and other government agencies. We may also contact other organisations or talk to people in the community. You can read more on this below.

  • If you're asked to come and talk to an investigator

    If we want to talk to you about your entitlement or an investigation, we'll work with you to meet at a time that suits you. You can choose whether or not you want to be interviewed.

    If you choose to be interviewed, we’ll go through the information we have and there'll be opportunities for you to ask questions. We'll also give you an opportunity to tell us your side of the story and any changes in your circumstances.

    If you need to, we can make a further appointment to discuss your entitlement in more detail.

    You can bring a support person or advocate with you to the interview. For example, you could bring a lawyer, family member, friend, an interpreter or benefit advocate. Please tell us if you want an interpreter and we can arrange one for you.

    What you say in an interview can be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution. Because of this, you have rights which we’ll remind you of at the interview:

    • you don't have to answer all our questions and you can stop the interview at any time
    • You can leave the interview at any time
    • You can speak with a lawyer or support person at any time in private.
  • How we find benefit fraud

    We find benefit fraud in lots of different ways, including through members of the public, sharing information with other government agencies, our own internal sources and regular entitlement reviews.

  • How we gather evidence

    If we suspect you of benefit or housing fraud, our investigators need to gather evidence. Evidence helps us determine if you have received money you weren’t entitled to and whether you misled us to receive it.

    In most cases we’ll contact you first to request more information about your situation and talk to you about our concerns.

    When we have to approach others for information directly, we can use powers under the Social Security Act 2018 and the Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992. These powers to collect information are controlled by Codes of Conduct with rules about what information we can request and the process we must follow.

    We’ll only gather information that is relevant and necessary for our investigation

    If you believe we have collected information we weren’t entitled to, or breached the Codes of Conduct, you can make a complaint on our website or write to us. Our Privacy Team will look into your complaint and be in touch with you as soon as we can.

    If you’re not happy with our response you can also make a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

  • Your information and privacy

    To protect your privacy, only authorised people can access detailed information about our benefit and housing fraud investigations.

    If you want a copy of your records that we hold, you can ask us for this.

    If you have any questions about the information in your file, or want to correct something, we can work with you to do this.

  • Find out more

    Don't take the risk. Call us if there's anything you'd like to know more about we are always happy to answer your questions and there is no need to identify who you are.

    You can call us free on 0800 559 009 or if you are a student call 0800 889 900

    Fraud affects us all. If you suspect someone you know may be committing benefit or housing fraud please call our Allegation Line on 0800 556 006

    If you're unsure about anything, please contact us.