COVID Fraud Hotline now open
Using a new, free and anonymous phone line, the public can now report suspected fraudulent Coronavirus claims.
Given that 150 different COVID support schemes have now been announced, the cost of fraud to the Government could be huge. The National Audit Office recently warned that business defaults and fraud could result in potential losses of £15bn to £26bn from the Covid-19 bounce bank loan scheme alone.
Cabinet Office Minister Julia Lopez said: ‘Many people work hard to pay their taxes, so it’s a gross injustice that fraudsters are shamefully taking advantage of measures set up to help people during the lockdown. We cannot let criminals profit from the COVID crisis, as every pound stolen by fraudsters could be invested in our vital public services. This is why we are urging the public to report any information to the Crimestoppers Covid Fraud Hotline.’
The hotline will be open for 12 months and cost the government £100,000 to set up, run, deliver and publicise. It will not cover criminal activity related to the furlough, universal credit or ‘eat out to help out’ schemes. Anonymous tipsters with information about furlough fraud are being directed to HMRC.
The Covid Fraud Hotline is open 24/7, 365 days a year on 0800 587 5030.
Alternatively, there is a simple and secure anonymous form online at Covidfraudhotline.org.
Please bear in mind that whilst this phone line can be used to report suspected fraud, it can also be used malevolently. A disgruntled member of staff, an unhappy customer, or anyone else could make an anonymous report against any business.
The only way to ensure that they cannot cause you problems is to make sure your claims are all above board, and that you have clear and accurate records of what and why you claimed. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, HMRC will be reviewing claims, but have stated that they will take into account the situation that all business owners have been in this year. Having clear records that show your best intentions were used will go a long way in protecting you.
If you’re unsure at any point what or when you should claim, please get in touch.