"The companies will compare information about private household spending – such as utility bills, mobile phone payment details and satellite television subscriptions – against benefit records to identify potential fraudsters."
Like many people in receipt of Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance I live in privately rented accomodation, to be specific the ground floor flat of a Victorian terrace with a maisonette above me. For reasons no-one seems too sure about the property is still registered as one house in some places and as a flat in others. The postcode seems to suffer from a similar dissociative identity disorder.
There are about a dozen names who still regularly receive post at this address, including people who've run up huge debts on both flats and not left forwarding addresses and at least one company who used this house as their trading address. My phone number previously belonged to Aunty Betsy's nephew and several women being pursued by debt collection agencies. Despite having informed more companies than I can remember, on more occasions than I can count that it is now my address and phone number I still regularly receive phone calls from debt collectors.
The type of rented property with a history of multiple, frequently changing occupants is all too common. If the debt collection agencies already can't or won't tell the difference between occupants, it is deeply concerning that these kind of features will be used as a flag for potential benefit fraud.
Here's my old fashioned suggestion to reduce housing benefit fraud - Inspectors! The traditional kind with clipboards who come round, have a quick look at the property and ensure the people living in it is are the people officially receiving the benefit. But that's a practical, workable idea, and one not likely to involve much profit for private companies....