We are collecting stories on the site because we think it's important to have a way to people to add their voice to this issue by sharing their story. It's puts a human voice to the issues with using technology and automating systems and providing a blanket solution without providing staff and people that can right wrongs and help people when there is an error.
Please share your story with us if you have a Centrelink debt story that you believe has been issued in error or due to a fault in the system.
As frustrating as it is, persist with the appeals process, and know others are behind you.
Stories are 100% anonymous
Was on AusStudy, had baby No.5, got postnatal depression, fell behind in studies and failed to tell centrelink...
Recieved debt letter and robo call, 0 support 0 care, too depressed to fight ...started paying back debt, finished paying back this year. The end.
I found out I had a debt straight from the debt collector.
At first I thought it was a scam but then found out I had been getting letters from Centrelink to my very old address.
Original debt was $5,000 — I became physically sick for a few days, later my psychiatrist had to increase my antidepressants, which was triggered by this one letter.
This debt has come up from 2014 a time I was studying at TAFE and working very casually while finding permanent work. From what I can see I’ve reported everything I earned properly but they have overpaid me so I need to pay their error back.
The first I heard of my debt was from a debt collector. When I spoke to Centrelink they accused me of not responding to letters of notification, letters I never received. They said I had not received them because I had not updated my address (years after stopping payments).
My debt comprised of two issues. Part 1 being that I had incorrectly reported my income as my received income and not my pre-tax income. This was a mistake and I agreed to pay back the difference. Part 2 was an accusation that I had recieved over-payment as I had not reported my income for a period of several months.
Acute anxiety, dreaming of very hairy cows and tsunamis. Centrelink raised a weird debt against me in December 2018. They said I did not declare earnings when I was on Newstart Allowance for six weeks in 2014.
I had to move out my home to save money to pay this off. I work around 10 - 20 hours per week and now I am thinking about selling my car to pay it off!!
As a single parent of 3, it’s hard enough to survive from fortnight to fortnight in a low paying industry, let alone receiving a massive debt from Centrelink that dates back to 2011.
I have suffered depression and anxiety since I was 18 yrs old, I am now 49 and the added pressure of this debt is slowly killing me.
I already suffer from depression and anxiety, and am on medication for both, but today I was told by the Commonwealth ombudsmen that there is nothing they can do, despite admitting that it was clearly a structural issue.
In 2017 I got a letter saying I was overpayed Newstart allowance from 2 years prior to this, and that I needed to provide additional information to the debt recovery team.
I had an aortic dissection and anneyurism almost 14 years ago, I was advised I would never be able to work again by surgeons and my GP.
After a few years I did some adult study as I wanted to do something to contribute to society.
We always over estimated our family income and each year we would get an adjustment payment as they stated they under paid based on our tax returns. Now they are stating they over paid, this is very stressful and I want them to stop all future payments as how can I trust that what I am getting paid is correct moving forward.
I have been in and out of work for the last few years. I have, on a couple of occasions, claimed an extra payment when I first started a job to cover the cost of actually getting to work, purchasing appropriate clothing and lunch expenses. I knew I would be expected to pay this back, and was expecting a $2000 - $3000 dollar debt. Not $26,800!
When I received the letter from Centrelink 2017, I was asked to report my income for 2011-2012.
I did exactly that and their system informed me that because what I had reported did not match their ATO data I had to call Centrelink many times and the response i got was blaming the ATO that to discuss. Their beating behind the bush.
I received a $1000 student start up loan and youth allowance payment during 3 months of 2016 while I was at university.
I now have to pay over $300 a month to Centrelink over a debt caused by their administration. It has made me upset, anxious and distraught at times.
I was on ftb with my one child in 2007 I left to go back home to nz in 2008 and I was still getting paid for about 4 weeks until I had lost my card so I didn’t see any of the ftb money. We moved back to Brisbane in 2017 and I get hit with a 5k debt which I never saw any of that money.
I received this when I was as I was saving up for a trip overseas, and working 55 hours per week.
I can't describe how stressful this was when I thought I'd no longer afford my dream trip.
Since I was informed about this they have taken my tax returns as well as fortnightly payments; it has caused my family to fall into financial hardship and I can no longer afford to pay the bills.
I have had my debt resassessed and it went up and down.
They have chased me 7 years after issuing the debt and I have already paid back $12000 of this.
Just before Christmas 2016, the letter mentioned debt collectors. From years before. No breakdown of the debt.
I was anxious and intimidated. I entered into a payment plan when I rang.
This debt has made me incredibly anxious, and the constant phone calls to Centrelink and from the robotic debt collection agency every morning when the hold on my debt for review 'expired' has been stressful.
I have autism and a phone phobia, and this process was incredibly difficult for me.
First debt letter arrived with the threat if I don't pay within 4 weeks my payments will stop and I may go to jail - panic!
Appealed and the debt increased - broken! (On DSP for mental health issues already)
Made a mygov account to access Medicare, linked centrelink though i haven't even received it since i was studying 6 years ago. 2 debts appeared, one for $2400 due Jan 2014 and one for $4.77 due Nov 2010. I have not been receiving centrelink since before 2013, thought i have been eligible for it for low income but did not claim it!