Thousands of unemployed Scots are suffering increasing hardship due to a harsh new clampdown on job seekers, according to Citizens Advice Scotland.
Job centres are becoming more strict in punishing people who allegedly do not do enough to find work, the body said.
In a new report it says that in April this year more than 240 "sanctions" were applied to job seekers in Scotland though many of the alleged offences were very minor, unproven or not the fault of the claimant.
CAS cited the examples of people who miss an appointment due to illness or bereavement, or because they rely on public transport which failed to get them there on time, or which they cannot afford.
Thousands of Scots are at risk of being pushed into poverty and debt as a result of the clampdown, it said.
The body warned that from next week job centres are being given the power to stop a claimant's benefit payments for a minimum of 13 weeks.
CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "People who receive JobSeekers Allowance (JSA) have a responsibility to fulfil their side of the deal and actively seek work. Nobody disagrees with that.
"What concerns us here is that there has been a massive increase in the numbers of people who have been sanctioned — many of them without adequate reason — and the consequence is that they are pushed into severe poverty."
CAS said claimants relied on the £71 per week they received to feed themselves and pay essential bills. To lose it for a period of weeks or months is "devastating", it said.
"Forced into destitution, people have to rely on extreme measures like charity food parcels," said the chief executive.
CAS has recommended clearer guidance and training for Jobcentre staff to make sure they only impose sanctions in appropriate circumstances and recognise cases where the punishment will push the claimant into poverty.
The Department for Work and Pensions said sanctions were only applied where people did not meet their job seeker obligations.
A spokeswoman said: "It's absolutely right that when people claim Jobseeker's Allowance they stick to the contract they make with us.
"The conditions that go with that ensure people aren't taking advantage of taxpayers' money.
"We take care to ensure people understand what is expected of them and encourage them to take up all the help that is available to them so they can get back to work.
"Sanctions are applied in the same way across the UK and are only used where people have not adhered to their jobseeker obligations. If someone disagrees with a decision made on their claim they can appeal."