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If you’ve been invited to an interview under caution for benefit fraud

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Don't ignore the letter inviting you to the interview - if you deal with the situation straight away you have more chance of getting a better outcome.

It's important to try and get a solicitor to support you while you're being investigated - they'll help you explain your situation and advise on what actions you need to take.

The best place to start is your nearest Citizens Advice - they'll help you find a suitable and affordable solicitor.

If you want to find a solicitor on your own, find out how to choose one and check if you can get help with costs. They need to be able to help with criminal law.

If you can't see Citizens Advice or a solicitor before your interview under caution, ask to change the date of your interview. Call the number on the letter inviting you to the interview and explain you're waiting to get advice first.

Prepare for meeting your adviser or solicitor

It's a good idea to check what will happen on nidirect and write down any questions you have.

If you need money while you're being investigated

If you're struggling financially because your benefit isn't being paid, you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice even if they aren't already supporting you with your case. For example, they might be able to help you carry on getting your benefit for a while or tell you about local food banks.

If you're found innocent

Although you've shown you're not guilty, you'll still need to argue that you were entitled to everything you claimed and shouldn't pay anything back. This is called 'challenging an overpayment'.

It's a separate process from proving you didn't commit benefit fraud - you have to do it or else you'll be told to make repayments. Ask your adviser or solicitor what to do or check our advice on challenging a benefit decision.

If you're found guilty

Your adviser or solicitor will tell you what to do if you're given a fine or other penalty. They'll also help if you're asked to choose between paying a fine or being prosecuted under criminal law.

You can also ask an adviser at Citizens Advice for help with:

  • checking the amount of money you've been told you've overpaid is correct
  • finding out if there are any other benefits you can claim
  • staying out of debt if you'll be getting less money in benefits
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