The Program Integrity Unit seeks to maintain the integrity of the public assistance programs by deterring fraud through education, early detection, and prosecution.


It is against the law to make false statements or to willfully withhold information when applying for public assistance. If you do not give truthful information, you can be taken to criminal court and charged with fraud and/or disqualified from receiving assistance. Information provided is checked by the Program Integrity Unit and, perhaps, by a State or Federal reviewer. The crime of welfare fraud is committed when people receive or attempt to receive welfare benefits by providing the Department of Social Services with false and inaccurate information, or by withholding information needed to correctly determine eligibility for welfare benefits.

The Program Integrity Unit devotes maximum efforts toward the prevention, detection, and recovery of overpayments in the public assistance programs. Cases are referred to this unit to investigate possible welfare fraud and abuse, and when possible, recoup benefits issued erroneously. In addition to collecting monies after an overpayment has occurred, "front-end" investigations are also conducted on high-risk cases in an effort to prevent overpayments.

To report suspected welfare fraud in Avery County, call Jennifer Jennings, Supervisor at 828-733-8230 or come by the Avery County Department of Social Services located at 175 Linville St., Newland, NC 28657 Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). You will be able to speak to an Investigator trained in collecting the necessary information.