I was told to pay off a mysterious £1,250 Universal Credit bill after scammers made a false claim on my behalf
Waking up in the middle of the night worried, Martin Cardon has no idea how he was going to pay a mysterious £1,250 bill from the Department for Work and Pensions.
A letter had landed on his doormat in January – but there was no explanation of why he owed the money.
Martin, 54, from Surrey, applied for Universal Credit from time to time while working as a self-employed gardener.
His last application for Universal Credit was made in April 2020 when, like millions of other Britons, he was unable to work during the pandemic.
He left the benefit in November last year, after getting work at a nearby supermarket over the busy Christmas period.
When the letter arrived, Martin tried to phone the DWP to check why he owed the money – but he couldn’t get an explanation.
The letter he received threatened to either contact his employer to arrange for the money to be withdrawn from his earnings or to contact a debt collection agency to obtain the money if he did not respond within three days.
“I was really angry that nobody explained why I owed all this money,” he said.
“I couldn’t talk to anyone, I couldn’t understand what was going on and I felt like no one could help me.
“I have nightmares when I’m stressed, and I had a nightmare for the first time in months, because I was so scared to pay for it.”
It wasn’t until he called The Sun’s Squeeze team for help that he got an answer.
The DWP has confirmed to The Sun that following a review of its case a fraudulent claim has been made on Martin’s behalf – and he does not owe a penny of the £1,250 debt.
“Without the help of the Squeeze team, we would still be stressed out about what to do, and we probably would have paid for it because we wouldn’t want to go to court,” Martin said.
“I thought I could fly when I was told I didn’t have to pay.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Fraud and error in the benefits system remains low, with 95% of benefits paid correctly, but we are working hard to uncover fraudulent claims and reduce fraud and error, including through a £0.5bn investment to boost capacity. and capacity.
“We have spoken to Mr. Cardon to advise him that no action is required as a result of this letter as a review indicated he was not involved in the Universal Credit application.
‘Anyone who receives a debt collection letter which they believe is linked to a fraudulent claim should contact us on 0800 916 0647.’
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