Taskforce Integrity is visiting Wagga Wagga in regional New South Wales to raise awareness about welfare recipients’ obligations so they can avoid accumulating a debt with the Department of Human Services.

The joint Department of Human Services and the Australian Federal Police taskforce was set up to detect and deter welfare fraud in specific locations.

More than $29.5 million in overpayments to welfare recipients have been identified since the Taskforce commenced operations in November 2015.

The Taskforce’s last visit to regional New South Wales was to Coffs Harbour in October 2016.

During the Coffs Harbour operations, the Taskforce investigated more than 1,800 cases, uncovering debts worth over $1.5 million. One of these cases involved serious fraud and the individual was referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

As part of the operations in Wagga Wagga, letters will be sent to people to remind them of the importance of keeping their details up to date.

People who have indicated they prefer to deal with the department by SMS may also receive a text message prompting them to check their details are current and correct.

Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge said that whilst the majority of people do the right thing, some people set out to deliberately defraud the welfare system.

“Many people who are identified in these operations receive overpayments because they forget to update their details with the Department,” Minister Tudge said.

“Unfortunately, there is as small amount of people deliberately try to defraud the system.

“A Taskforce Integrity investigation in New South Wales discovered a man who failed to declare his marriage-like relationship and received a debt of over $110,000.”