Scottish finance director Mike Younger criticises DWP after identity theft
Mike Younger, finance director with Edinburgh-based Ian Macleod Distillers has publicly criticised the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after his identity was stolen to claim benefits illegally.
Mr Younger received a bill for for almost £700 by the DWP after his national insurance number was used by someone with the same name in England. In 2018, he reached out to HMRC when he realised that his address had been “updated” on his online record, from Edinburgh to Manchester.
He said: “HMRC wrote to me confirming that the DWP could change your address record without HMRC checking with you. This struck me as ridiculous. They then made an undertaking to fully rectify all associated data.”
However, in 2021, the DWP contacted his employer to reclaim £686 that it said he owed. After telling his company’s payroll department not to process the request, Mr Younger contacted the DWP’s debt management line to resolve the issue, The Times reports.
Following action from Mr Younger’s solicitors, and intervention by the Information Commissioner, the DWP launched an investigation into the case and suspended attempts to reclaim the money. However, it said that since the debt was not identified as belonging to another NI number it would remain against Mr Younger.
Mr Younger added: “This whole saga raises serious questions about whether the DWP can be trusted to handle personal data.”
“The saga is now almost five years old and the DWP have not reacted with any sense of responsibility or recognition that they have wasted my time, my sleep, my potential reputation, and my money. They are beyond hopeless.”
Responding to the situation, the DWP said: “Callous crooks steal people’s data to defraud the benefits system. We are already tackling this, including reviewing 900,000 cases in the past year.”
It added: “We are looking into Mr Younger’s case and have suspended the debt completely in the meantime. We apologise to Mr Younger for the length of time it has taken to reach this point and for the inconvenience.”