The Department of Social Protection has received more than 16,000 anonymous tip-offs from members of the public this year regarding suspected cases of social welfare fraud.
A dedicated phone line and website facility is provided by the Department for individuals to submit anonymous reports of suspected abuses by social welfare claimants.
So far this year, 16,359 tip-offs have been received from members of the public, triggering investigations into cases of suspected fraud.
There has been a big rise in the number of such reports since the economic crisis. In 2008, for example, the department received 1,044 anonymous tip-offs.
However, the number increased to 16,917 in 2011 and 28,022 in 2012. Last year, 24,720 cases of suspected social welfare fraud were reported to the Department’s Control Division. The figures were revealed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton in response to a parliamentary question this week from Galway West Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh.
Ms Burton said that, where relevant, anonymous reports were referred to inspectors for follow-up action.
She said payments were not stopped or suspended as a result of anonymous reports but the tip-offs may trigger a review of a claimant’s circumstances and entitlement.
Offences for which a claimant could be reported include working while claiming dole, living with a partner and claiming One Parent Family Payment and receiving a payment while living abroad.
“It should be borne in mind that, while there is often a perception of fraud, when a case is examined, the individual may be doing something that is allowed under the rules of the particular payment that they are receiving,” said Ms Burton.
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