London, April 2012 - Tenancy fraud is easy to commit and hard to uncover. That is the view of many local authorities trying to tackle what is considered by the Audit Commission to be the largest category of fraud across local government, with an estimated 50,000 homes currently occupied fraudulently. Yet, although Housing Tenancy Fraud is estimated by the National Fraud Authority to cost the public purse at least £900 million each year, many local authorities do not allocate dedicated resource to it.
Emphasising the need to tackle housing tenancy fraud in order to reduce local government costs, a spokesman from the National Fraud Authority, was recently reported as saying: "... we call upon all local authorities to implement a thorough strategy going forwards to detect and prevent it (Housing Tenancy Fraud), using identified best practice including the use of credit reference data".
Addressing this challenge is the Equifax Tenancy Verification service, designed to deliver a simple to use but powerful solution to housing providers, to reduce the cost of housing misuse, enhance the identity verification of tenants and improve collection of arrears. By helping local authorities focus their resources to identify wrongly occupied properties, Equifax is enabling councils to free up homes for those with genuine housing needs.
Housing tenancy fraud includes the unauthorised subletting of a property for profit, using false information in a housing application to gain a tenancy and wrongful tenancy, where a property is no longer occupied by the original tenant. But with many local authorities responsible for extensive social housing stock, being able to focus resources to effectively identify fraud is a huge challenge. The Equifax Tenancy Verification service recognises this and provides an easy to implement solution which goes to the heart of cutting costs, whilst enabling the proper allocation of social housing.
The Equifax Tenancy Verification service provides a comprehensive review of all housing stock for a local authority, verifying bona fide residencies and, crucially, identifying cases with anomalies which need further investigation. This risk assessment tool, helping differentiate between high risk cases and those which are genuine, enables a local authority to allocate appropriate resource and take proportionate action in response to suspected fraud.
For example, the power of the Equifax databases facilitates address matching and cleansing of tenant records, confirming current place of residence as well as highlighting changes in personal circumstances. This, in turn, provides the evidence to support the investigation of simple cases, such as a resident living at another address, deceased tenants or the presence of unauthorised residents at an address.
Equifax data can also be used to trace residents with arrears. Using detailed financial information, a local authority can then establish an individual’s ability to pay, as well as their overall indebtedness.
“With around 2 million families waiting for council houses and temporary housing costing nearly £1 billion a year, clearly Housing Tenancy Fraud needs to be tackled in a focused and forthright manner”, said Carly Newbury of Equifax Public Sector services. “The Equifax Tenancy Verification service harnesses the power of our extensive data assets, combined with our proven data matching and analytical capabilities to help local authorities reduce this burden on their budgets.
“This new solution means the cost of housing tenancy misuse can be reduced as well as the costs of providing temporary accommodation - two major drains on public sector resources. And we are already working with several local authorities, helping them stay in control of costs and reduce fraud, at a time when budgets are under close scrutiny.”
For further press information please contact: Wendy Harrison, Jenny Thorneywork or Clare Watson at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Equifax is a global leader in consumer and commercial information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 17 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.
© Equifax, Inc., All rights reserved