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
I was stressed already when I got the letter. I had just lost my job and got that letter and another saying I'd be no longer getting Family Tax Benefit all within a few days.
Battling a $744 debt from Centrelink, they sent the letter to a wrong address that I hadn't lived in for 6 years, so had to start paying the debt immediately without even having it reassessed as I didn't have a chance to.
I returned to uni to study medicine after 10 years of full time work (and tax paying). I claimed Austudy in order to pay rent and eat. My situation was very complex and it took many hours of phone calls, centerlink visits to have my claim approved. I then ensure I reported every bit of income to them in order to avoid any issues like this.
It was a real shock when my mother received a letter stating I owe 1350 and if it wasn't rectified in 14 days it would go to a debt collector. So when I received her phone call I was outraged.
It's all connected to my 2014/15 tax return when I worked two jobs for half the year. I have not lodged my return because I owe money I can't afford ($7K) and don't agree with the return my accountant prepared.
$2,400 alleged debt from two periods in 2014 and 2015. One period i was receiving no centrelink money, the other i had just started work and am fairly certain i had an income bank built up which would explain the entire debt. No one has provided any of this information I would need to check this so I am in limbo.
I am a 28 year old male. When I was 16 years old Centrelink gave me a debt for $7000 for an apparent over-payment. They made the claim that I had intentionally received a higher amount of pay than I was eligible for.
I first recieved a text message from Centrelink at approx 2.30 am, thinking it was a Nigerian scam I posted my thoughts on Facebook. It was not flattering. I got a bit worried after recieving a message telling me to check my Mygov account for mail. After finally giving in, I found that I had a letter of debt approx, 7.1k.
I was already stressed when I got the letter that they were reviewing my records in case I owed them money and I had to verify some info from 6 years ago. How am I supposed to do that? Trying to login to myGov wasted my whole afternoon with no success so I phoned Centrelink. Highly stressed and anxious at this stage.
Got a letter saying I need to confirm my income..so I had to register online to deal with it and that was a major headache after 4 trips to centrelink and numerous phonecalls I finally register online but it was to late and a letter came saying I owe $4700 are you kidding me there's no way I ever got overpaid nearly 5 grand this has caused
Suicidal, once antidepressants and medications from back injury are paid, there's not much more than $5.00 a week left to live was on workcover from 2012
Anxiety levels, financial stress.
I was shocked to get a text saying I had a new letter from Centrelink. Had to set up myGov to check it out and had to do a compliance check as there was a discrepancy. Did the check and 13 days later I had a $2500 debt that was due in 14 days. I stressed and cried and caused major financial worries. Where was I going to get the money.
I am currently appealing my "online generated debt" for the 6th time. The first five appeals have resulted in fluctuating debt totals between $0 and $10200. No two decisions have arrived at the same conclusion.
I was already in a dark place with anxiety so opening this letter sent me off the hook. To make it worse I'm a uni student with a job that can only provide 3 shifts a week. The debt is from 2012-2013, I was in and out of hospital with serious mental healthy issues... how could you have over paid me $5600 and I some how spend it...
This is what happened to me, and I am one of those people who keeps record of all payslips and letters from Centrelink even those over 6 years ago, proof I was honest.
At first I thought the debt letter I received in the mail was a scam, Centrelink didn't have my married name or my current address.
One assessment says I owe money, had it reassessed and recieved letter saying I owe nothing and to do nothing further, but debt still existed on my account. Had to pay it by the 12/1/17 or pay 7% interest. They are now manually assessing it to hopefully get the credits applied that the computer system can't seem to apply to the debt.
At the heart of what they are saying is that I'm a liar, a thief and a cheat. With another review under way, I'm feel like I'm just delaying another argument with them because regardless of what proof I can show them all they have to say is their computer says different.
I have a 2 month old son and a partner who has gastric issues preventing him from working at the moment. We are both 19. It caused fights and almost destroyed my family, my anxiety and depression was horrible, especially since we were unable to contact anyone until January of this year.
Well....where do I start. I meet a man when I was 20 and ended up having a child to him. Now not my shining moment but he was living at a caravan park & I was living with my mother. He moved to qld I stayed in NSW till my child was 3 months old. Saw that rentals were extremely cheaper up here and I could actually make a life up here.
Had temporary work in 2011. When this work finished, I contacted CL as my husband & I were under severe financial pressure. He had been on sick benefits for some time due to a medical condition that they could not identify. I was concerned for the health of my family.
I received the "income reported does not match your tax return" notice in October 2015 regarding youth allowance I'd claimed between September 2011 and October 2013.
The CSA has been using this algorithm for years on unsuspecting non custodial parents... They have sent many to ruin and suicide already.. Now I am happy they are using it on unemployed and they can feel the hopelessness of dealing with these pigs as many at the CSA have been doing for years..
My stress and anxiety is through the roof at the moment and I have no money to my name, because I work a casual job which I might work a whole week then the next week have barely anything on, the debt collectors tried to push the debt onto my partner who has never been involved with Centrelink and we are struggling to keep a roof under our heads
In March of 2016 I dropped units and became a part-time student. I know this effects payments so I changed my study load on the app. I did this before AUSTUDY payments came out. Apparently I did not give them enough notice, I received the payment and thought 'ok well that's nice, I still get money for being part-time'.