Thousands of unemployed Scots could be stripped of their allowances for months thanks to jobcentre screw-ups, Citizens Advice Scotland warned today.
It condemned "devastating" new penalties that come into force next week, which will punish people for alleged infractions with a minimum four-week benefit freeze, soaring to 13 weeks the second time.
But hundreds of people have already told the charity that they've been sanctioned.
In April 240 penalties were handed out, many for minor issues, unproven allegations or for things outside the person's control.
In one case a woman's partner was punished for missing an interview - because the jobcentre had scheduled a mandatory work placement.
In another the Department for Work and Pensions had denied a man's appeal that he had not received a Work Programme provider's letter notifying him of an appointment - only for Citizens Advice to learn the department hadn't handed over his new address.
Chief executive Margaret Lynch warned the "massive increase" in sanctions was pushing vulnerable people into severe poverty.
Out-of-work people receive just £71 a week on the allowance for food and essential bills.
To lose it for weeks or months at a time would be devastating, she said - and the charity had seen a surge in demand for food parcels as a result.
The Department for Work and Pensions said people should "stick to the contract" and could appeal if they disagreed with a decision.