Experian and benefit fraud

Roland Perry lists at internetpolicyagency.com
Wed Aug 11 08:31:58 BST 2010

In article <4C617869.9040506 at zen.co.uk>, Peter Fairbrother 
<zenadsl6186 at zen.co.uk> writes
>The Gubbmint plans to get credit rating firms to check benefit claimants.
>"One firm, Experian, said it was in talks over a deal which could see 
>it get a "bounty" for cheats it uncovers."
>"Experian said it already had a contract to look into new housing 
>benefit claimants, in a deal agreed by the previous government. It 
>expects the annual saving to be £17m."
>"Asked about civil liberty fears about the government using firms to 
>look into benefit claimants' spending, [David Cameron] said: "I do not 
>think people should be concerned."
>"If you are entitled to welfare and can claim it then you should claim 
>it but if you are not entitled to it you should not get and should not 
>claim it."
>Pity nobody asked him more directly about the privacy implications. If 
>Experian are to check benefits claimants, they will need to cross check 
>the claimants with Experian's records.
>Which means that Experian will need to have access to a constantly 
>updated list of all claimants, and how much they get  ... wonder how 
>much Experian are paying for *that* access?

I'm not sure why you assume that the claimant data will be "pulled" off 
the local authority databases rather than (as happens today) the client 
(LA) pushing the data to Experian for them to run through their existing 

It's not clear what Experian will be checking, perhaps just that the 
claimant really does exist, and lives where he says on the application 
form - although ironically many HB claimants won't have a particularly 
permanent address, nor one suspects very many of the sorts of credit 
account that would be populating the Experian database.

There's a subtext that perhaps Experian will be reporting back on the 
"lifestyle/spending patterns" of the claimants, although there's two 
problems with that - it's only the fact they bought on *credit* from 
Experian's subscribing lenders (although that includes utility/phone 
bills), and new claims for HB may reflect that someone has recently 
fallen upon hard times, which could be disjoint from their previous 
lifestyle (indeed, the more they overspent before, the less they might 
be able to support themselves today).

Other things that the Experian check may not resolve is the extent of a 
claimants savings, but there's a possibility that it could smoke out one 
of the other cheating modalities, which is people renting off a relative 
(which isn't allowed).
Roland Perry

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