Can Universal Credit Check My Bank Account?

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26 Jun 2024

Universal Credit, a financial aid system designed by the UK government, has been a lifeline for many British individuals and families. However, with the rise of fraudulent Universal Credit claims, DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) has amped up their investigation tactics.

A common question that arises is, can Universal Credit check my bank account?

In this insight, we'll answer that question and delve deeper into the intricacies of Universal Credit and DWP's investigative powers.

Can Universal Credit Check My Bank Account?

Yes, approved in December 2023 as part of new surveillance powers for DWP. DWP, the body behind Universal Credit can check your bank account, particularly during fraud investigations.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has legal authority to access bank information if suspicions arise. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can check your bank account through a legal process during investigations, especially if they suspect fraudulent activity.

They have the authority to request your financial information, including bank statements and transaction details, from your bank.

This is usually part of their effort to verify the accuracy of the information you've provided on your Universal Credit application. It's important to note that this process is conducted following specific legal procedures and is primarily aimed at addressing cases of suspected fraud.


can universal credit check my bank accounts

Key Takeaways

  • Universal Credit and the DWP can check your bank account, particularly when fraud is suspected. The DWP has legal authority to access bank information to verify the accuracy of claims.
  • When applying for Universal Credit, you must provide accurate financial information, including income, savings, and assets. Misleading or false information can be considered fraud and can have legal consequences.
  • Universal Credit is a financial lifeline aimed at helping individuals who are sick, unemployed, or on low income cover basic living costs. It consolidates various benefits into a single system.
  • The DWP can access bank information through a legal process during investigations, primarily to address suspected fraud cases. This power is controlled and is typically used when investigating potential benefit fraud.

When DWP Checks Your Bank Accounts, What can land you in trouble?

If you apply for Universal Credit, you must disclose your financial situation, encompassing income, savings, and assets.

If you provide false or misleading information on your Universal Credit application, it can be considered as fraud. Fraudulent actions can include understating your savings, income, or other financial aspects to receive more benefits than you are entitled to.

This is why honesty in providing accurate information is crucial to avoid potential legal consequences and to ensure that the support reaches those who genuinely need it.

Universal Credit is a financial lifeline offered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It's designed to help individuals who are either sick, unemployed or on low income meet their basic living costs.

The benefit is designed to replace all other forms of benefits, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit.

Individuals currently claiming these legacy benefits can voluntarily transition to Universal Credit. However, it's recommended that individuals consult with a personal adviser at Citizen's Advice to ensure they are financially better off.

It's worth noting that the UK government intends to migrate all legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit by 2029.

This system of checking your bank accounts works in the same way as when banks report large deposits to hmrc.

Can Universal Credit Check My Savings Accounts?

Yes, just in the same manner DWP can check your bank accounts during an investigation, they can also check your savings accounts and investments. They can also request up to date savings account statements as part of their investigation.

This includes online banks, premium bonds, and stocks and shares.

Can Universal Credit Check My Social Accounts?

DWP Universal Credit do not typically check social accounts, like facebook, tiktok and instagram during your application review. However, if you were to be investigated for fraud, as part of the investigation you may be required to provide access to your social media accounts.

It is also possible that the police would review your data to ensure you are not committing fraud.

How Do DWP Check Your Bank Account?

DWP is authorised under the Social Security Administration Act to gather information from various places, including banks.

However, this power is tightly controlled and would likely only be used if you're under investigation for fraud. Hence, it's essential to be truthful about your savings and investments when making a claim for Universal Credit. Understating these amounts could lead to accusations of benefit fraud.

What Happens If You Lie On Universal Credit Application?

If the DWP suspects you of committing benefit fraud, they will initiate an investigation. The process usually begins with the DWP contacting you, and you might be asked to attend an interview to discuss your case.

They may also visit your home or workplace to gather evidence.

The evidence collected by DWP investigators can include:

  • Inspector reports from surveillance activities
  • Photos or videos
  • Audio recordings
  • Correspondence
  • Financial data, such as bank statements
  • Interviews with you or people you know
  • Any evidence submitted by those who reported you

Social media accounts could also be checked for evidence inconsistent with your benefits claim. If the DWP decides to formally investigate you, they will notify you in writing, by phone, or by email.

The Implications of Benefit Fraud

If you're found to have committed or attempted to commit fraud, you may be asked to repay the overpaid money, taken to court or asked to pay a penalty, or your benefits may be reduced or stopped.

If convicted, your benefits could be stopped or reduced for up to three years.

However, not all benefits can be reduced or stopped if you commit benefit fraud. Certain benefits, like Attendance Allowance, Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, and State Pension, are protected.

On the other hand, Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, and Pension Credit are among the benefits that can be stopped or reduced if you commit fraud.

Universal Credit Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Universal Credit, you must be over 18 years old (but under the state pension age), live in the UK, and either unemployed or have a low income. The amount you can claim depends on your circumstances.

If you have children or are disabled, you may be eligible for an additional top-up above the basic amount.

However, if you or your partner have considerable savings or investments, your entitlement to Universal Credit could decrease. For example, for every £250 you have above £6,000, your Universal Credit entitlement is reduced by £4.35 a month.

Notably, if your savings or investments total £16,000 or more, you won't be eligible for any Universal Credit at all.

Universal Credit Review Asking for Bank Statements

In a Universal Credit review, bank statements may be requested to assess financial eligibility and ensure accurate benefit payments.

These statements help verify income, expenses, and assets, ensuring individuals receive the correct amount of support and identifying any changes in financial circumstances.


To summarise, the answer to the question, can Universal Credit check my bank account? is yes. If the DWP suspects benefit fraud, they have the legal right to gather information from your bank.

This underscores the importance of honesty when dealing with Universal Credit claims to avoid potential fraud investigations.

In the end, Universal Credit is a vital support system for many British citizens. By understanding the responsibilities and requirements associated with it, we can ensure this support goes to those who genuinely need it.


Stuart is an expert in Property, Money, Banking & Finance, having worked in retail and investment banking for 10+ years before founding Sunny Avenue. Stuart has spent his career studying finance. He holds qualifications in financial studies, mortgage advice & practice, banking operations, dealing & financial markets, derivatives, securities & investments.

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