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
My "debt" occurred within two different time periods as I was searching for work after my degree and between jobs. I was working casually at two different places and entering the information as required each fortnight. Some fortnights I would get nothing paid out and others I would get more.
This alleged debt has had me spending hours of my time chasing Centrelink to even have details of this alleged debt. I started my first new job in years - Centrelink had been sending multiple letters to my employer chasing confirmation of my income two days after I started.
I am was very careful about reporting and the voiceover job that I did in June was worth a lot of money so I rang Centrelink to check when I should report it. They said when I worked it. I rang the ATO and they want it reported when I got paid.
Luckily i had stable work and accommodation for most of the process but it has definitely cost me too many hours of my life and a few hairs on my scalp.
I first received notice I had an overpayment debt in 2016 pertaining to Newstart payments I received in 2014. I requested an appeal and entered in my payment information as well as provided hard copy evidence at Moreland Centrelink branch.
Long story short.
Received a debt letter for 9k as they over paid me SINCE 2013. Told them the review it and I won. Got that number reduced to 5k and currently paying $100 back a week for it because that's what their "minimal requirement" is...so they say.
I've sent 12 emails, written 2 letters and made several phone calls. No answer and they still haven't/refused to provide me with any evidence of how I owe this debt. Absolutely rort of a system. My FTB is being garnished for it. Probably will be for years until they decide to answer me.
the debt collection letter states they may take the debt from my tax return, take money from my bank account and stop me from travelling overseas - you better believe I'm stressed. My partner and I are looking to build a home soon and this is the last thing I need to worry about.
Well.. a victory finally.. after 3 plus years of this apparent debt screwing with my life and mind.. i have a victory.. and one that i am thinking that i may want to sue DHS for the absolute strain this all has had on my wellbeing and finances...
I got the initial 'please clarify your income' notice 6 months ago through Centrelink. I meticulously reported my earnings down to the cent and had all payslips. I even made myself a spreadsheet that sorted my earnings into both the Centrelink reporting periods and my pay periods.
Huge increase in anxiety levels, I've been quite depressed and hopeless. I have not been able to keep my head above water financially, and am barely coping in other areas of my life.
Initaially in 2015 received a letter I’d earn to much once returning to work it was calculated over a 2 year period after being severely ill and had to go on Centrelink as exhausted funds. Once we’ll returned to working x2 jobs to catch up on mortgage etc etc.
This so-called debt has been hanging over me for 1.5 years. I was so close to giving in due to the mental and emotional stress, however I continued to be resistant to the tele-service people on the phone and continued to prove my innocence.
Having to continue to speak to different people, each as clueless as the next was stressful, and as I felt like I was getting somewhere I would go right back to the start with DHS staff not knowing what to do or how to do something that the person before them assured me I could get.
Originally received an email saying I owed $800 from a time period where I worked casually over finishing uni and then got a full time job early in the new year (I thought that was the point?!
I had a similar debt which I appealed and paid back half $4000. Now there hitting me up again for another $7200. It’s been longer than 7 years.
I confirmed my income in 2018 and the notice I received in 2019 had completely different numbers - they're calculations seem so random! Trying to save for a house deposit and they want to take a decent chunk after 4 years. I'm about to call up and go through an appeal process, but it's a bit hard with full time work.
I received an employment income confirmation letter in April 2018. I was so stressed as I am a full time university student who also works part time and had to ring around my employers to get payslips from nearly 3 years ago. I completed the income confirmation and never heard from Centrelink about this issue again.
As a newly divorced single mother unable to find work, went back to uni at age 45 to do nursing so I could support my family and not rely on Centrelink. Worked casual nursing shifts and diligently reported every dollar I earned so they could take 50c in the dollar out of the measly $550 a fortnight.
Actually having this conversation. Its summarised and the jargon has been removed for ease of reading.
The government changes the law, does not advise and does not implement the new law (probably due to under staffing or no expertise). Fast forward to March 2019 - Overnight, i am in debt .. I called and asked when that policy of $80k threshold was put into effect and i was told the 20th March 2018.
I have anxiety, I already did pay this debt in 2018 but they say I still need to pay. They seemed to have lost records that I have paid it even though I have bank transactions of me sending the money to centerlink.
It has used up time and energy that took away from my current employment and social life. I had to go through the reporting process twice and there was no explanation about how the supposed debt was incurred so I felt like I'd done something wrong when I hadn't.
I just keeping asking myself, what happened to being innocent until proven guilty (prima facie). I was so angry that Centrelink was implying that I had routed the system when I have supplied my fortnightly earnings during this period and a separation certificate and had lodged a tax return.
I actually have about 3-4 different debts that have miraculously shown up over the last few years. All totalling between $2200 -$4400. I've always have money stresses and obviously copping one let alone several debts is here to deal with. Specially when I have no actual idea how this had happened.