Can DWP check your facebook

In this blog post, we are going to talk about whether the DWP can check our facebook and other social media accounts. 

We will also discuss the obligations DWP has regarding collecting, using and holding your personal data, what type of data DWP uses and who else has access to that information. 

Can the DWP check your facebook?

If the Department of work and Pensions (DWP) UK suspects you of having received fraud benefits, they can do a formal investigation on your social media pages- facebook, twitter, and instagram as well. 


In an article written for TeessideLive, 3.9 percent of benefits were recorded to have been overpaid in the years 2020-2021 and this is determined to be the highest record of overpayment suspected to be a result of fraud. 

Benefits fraud occurs when someone who received benefits from the state when they are no longer entitled for these benefits and deliberately do not report changes in their personal situations that make Anthem no longer eligible for the benefits. 

The DWP can start an investigation on you if you are suspected of benefits fraud and this investigation also includes looking into your facebook profile to piece together your activities and day to day life that might be used as evidence for fraud. 

For example, if you avail the unemployment benefits but are seen to attend workspaces or chat with the manager of a particular workplace on your social media, or you pictures indicate your location tags to be indicative of a certain employment route, these pictures and tags can be used against you for fraud.

So the use of social media for investigation becomes a crucial aspect of the DWP investigation against people who are suspected of fraud.

What is DWP?

According to their website, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy.

It is the UK’s biggest public service department and it also administers the State Pension and disability and ill health benefits to claimants. 

Their priorities include:

  • running an effective welfare system that enables financial independence by providing guidance into employment
  • increasing saving for, and security in, later life of UK citizens
  • create a fair welfare system which improves the life children
  • deliver Benefits services to our customers and claimants

What does the DWP do?

The responsibilities of the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK include:

  • understanding and dealing with the causes of poverty 
  • encouraging people to work and get employed
  • Guiding disabled people to work and be independent by creating systemic opportunities for employment.
  • Helping people with ill health to seek employment opportunities
  • Helping create a structure that provides a decent income for people of pension age Promoting saving for retirement
  • Providing value for money 
  • Reducing levels of fraud and error
  • reducing work-related death and serious injury in workplaces
  • Collects personal data such as your name, address, date of birth, about everyone who has been allocated a National Insurance number.

What DWP uses personal information for?

The kind of information the DWP collects about an individual depends on one’s business with them, but they may use the information for any other purposes as well. 

For example, DWP uses your National Insurance number to help identify you when you use DWP services such as disability or unemployment benefits. DWP does not use your data to try and sell your data to anyone.

Other reasons why the DWP collects information are for:

  • social security (this includes benefits, grants, loans, pensions, and Housing Benefit)
  • child maintenance
  • the investigation or prosecution of offences relating to tax and benefits
  • prevention and detection of fraud
  • protecting public funds
  • employment and training
  • financial planning for retirement
  • research and analysis into issues cited above.

Because the use of the data is for public benift it is very imporant that you give them accurate information, and keeo them update about any personal changes in circumstances so that you are no considering a suspect of fraud.

Accurate infomation also helps them keep your information accurate and up to date, pay you the right amount of benefit, provide the best possible service. 

What type of Data does the DWP use?

Types of data of the general publics that DWP processes include:

  • personal details
  • family, lifestyle and social circumstances
  • financial details
  • employment and education details
  • goods or services provided
  • education and training details
  • visual images

DWP also processes sensitive information of the public such as:

  • physical or mental health details
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • trade union membership
  • genetic data
  • biometric data
  • offenses including alleged offenses
  • criminal proceedings, outcomes, and sentences

Are the public aware when the DWP have their information?

If and when the DWP process your personal information, they keep the public informed about wht they need the information they susually contact you via email or phone call to get the details. 

They also process infomation that they need and nothinf more and ensures confidentiality by limiting access of the inomation. If they need to share your infomation with other organisations and goverment bdies, they make sure that you are infomed and asks for consent if you have a choice.

What are the Data protection principles of the DWP?

The DWP complies with the data protection law of the country and state which states that the data collected is to be used lawfully, fairly and in a transparent way.

The data protection laws also provide you with:

  • the right to be informed
  • the right to rectification
  • the right to erasure
  • the right to restrict processing
  • the right to data portability
  • the right to object
  • the right to not be subject to automated decision-making, including profiling

The law also states that the data must be Collected only for valid purposes that we have clearly explained to you and not used in any other way that is incompatible with those purposes.

The law also stresses that the data collected is relevant to the purposes we have told you about and limited only to those purposes, it is kept up to data, for only as long as necessaierly and protected. 

Who does the DWP holds information about?

DWP holds basic information (such as your name, address, date of birth) about everyone who has been allocated a National Insurance number.

This includes:

  • members of the public
  • customers and claimants
  • people who live in the customer’s or claimant’s household
  • suppliers and services providers
  • advisers, consultants, and other professional experts
  • complainants and enquirers
  • relatives, guardians, and associates
  • offenders and suspected offenders
  • employees

With whom does the DWP share information about the public?

DWP shares information when necessary for these services, as permitted by law. It is by law that for the DWP to share infomation about you, they must get your legal consent where necessary. 

DWP may share information with and get it from other organizations such as:

  • other government departments
  • local authorities
  • social security organizations in other countries
  • employers and potential employers
  • social landlords
  • private-sector bodies, such as banks and other organizations that may lend you money, and credit reference agencies
  • charitable and welfare organizations

Why do DWP share information?

DWP shares information when necessary for these services, as permitted by law and with legal consent where applicable. 

The reasons the DWP is sharing their data include:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • help people with particular difficulties, such as troubled families
  • help people get or stay in work
  • child maintenance
  • help people get education and training to improve their chances of getting work
  • support people with independent living, including home help and respite care
  • prevent or detect crime
  • check payments for services
  • protect public funds
  • use for research or statistical purposes

How long does DWP keep public data?

DWP keep basic information realted to the piblic for as long as their National Insurance number exists, such as your name, date of birth and address.

Most benefit records and information provided for other DWP services are also kept after the claim ends for the period necessary for any appeals, reviews and other activity to be completed.

Payment records may be kept for longer, usually 6 years if they are relevant to the tax you pay and you have the right to access these data that the DWP have of you without charge.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we showed you what are the legal rights and obligations of the DWP regarding collecting, using and holding your personal data.

References

About Us. Department of Work and Pensions  Gov.UK. Retrieved on 26th November 2021. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about

Howard.L. & Johnson. I. DWP could watch people’s Facebook and Instagram accounts after ‘thousands overpaid benefits’. TessideLive. 13th September 2021. Retrieved on 26th November 2021. 

FAQ about Can DWP check your Facebook

Can DWP check your bank account?

A DWP authorized officer can access bank account information if they believe they have sufficient grounds.

Can DWP watch your house?

DWP can watch your house, they might be waiting outside in a parked car and typically they watch to see who is coming in and out of the house and what condition they appear to be in.

What information does the DWP hold?

DWP holds basic information (such as your name, address, date of birth) about everyone who has been allocated a National Insurance number.

Does DWP keep phone records?

The DWP does not record all calls or keep phone records. They record some for training purposes mainly but not all calls are recorded.

Because they can’t always pre-empt which calls will be recorded they do have to give a warning that a call ‘may’ be recorded but this does not necessarily mean that it is being recorded.

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