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
The month after I received a debt notice was an absolute rigmarole at the hands of the government.
I found out about my debt via a text message from MyGov on the 13th of January 2017, telling me that I had a letter ready to view online.
I was at work.
I opened the letter and saw that I had a huge debt ($26,578.45 to be exact) owing to Centrelink and that the due date was the 8th of February 2017.
Anxiety levels high.
Frustrated! Insulted! Offended! I did nothing wrong!
I did as I was told.
I never received their 11 letters they say they sent me, so I went down and requested a copy.
I had an emotional breakdown before Christmas, resulting in my choice to leave work because of my mental illness and circumstances and extra stress this put on me trying to work out how to deal with it.
I broke down had to make an emergency visit to the doctors.
I received a letter yesterday saying I had to call Centrelink due to an overpayment. I called them and they said I had been overpayed the Parenting Payment in the financial year ending 2012, due to an incorrect assessment of my profit and loss statement vs my Income declared on my Tax Return. I was shocked and confused.
Me and My wife are going through the Hardship since almost an year now, reason my contract was ended abruptly and since then I am not in job.
I have recently received job.
Wife was also on maternity leave without any source of income with 2 Kids, once 1 year and second grade 6.
I recieved the initial letter at the start of December 2016. The letter informed me there was a discrepancy between my income declared to Centrelink and the income that the ATO had supplied Centrelink with for the same financial year.
Cue anxiety levels through the roof.
The debt is bull!
I have and always will taken care of my mother. So much we bought a house together.
I was notified of this debt 2 days before my son birthday.
From 4 years ago.
I have worked for 2 and a half years now and i love it but my heath is going and going fast.
This debt has affected me because I can't afford to pay it back in 1 lump sum. D&B want me to pay it back in 1 lump sum.
I set up a payment arrangement of $50 a month as that's all I can afford.
They accepted but keep calling me to up the amount. Which I previously told them I can't afford any more.
Received a letter on the 19th of November weeks before Christmas.
Tried to contact centrelink — busy tones on their phone lines and then the holidays, couldn't get through.
Then there were strikes, got hung up on by no one answering the phone.
My false debt occurred in 2015 when i commenced the Green Army Program 29/6/2015. I was given a letter from Job Futures - Green Army it was to be processed at my local Centrelink office.
I received the Parenting Payment from July 2006 to Oct 2013.
My husband is a farmer and as such, is director of a family farming partnership.
Centrelink claims that for the entire period I received the Parenting Payment, I was in fact ineligible to receive it due to my husband's share of the farming property.
I've gone into a payment plan as I felt I had no option , it's not a large amount each fortnight but is definitely money I could use and it's going to take years to get rid of.
iv been doing it hard in lots of ways for maybe the last 7 yrs .
i was recieving parenting an family tax payments an working casually sometimes.
This debt has been randomly placed on me, through a "duplicate system error".
I had updated my rental details through MyGov in Oct 2016. Centrelink requested a copy of rental agreement or my rental assistance would be cut off.
I was unable to notify centrelink I had left university, as I had been kicked out of an abusive home, left homeless for some time until my Aunt was able to take me in. I suffer from PTSD and depression and anxiety disorders from childhood abuse and an abusive partner I was with at the time.
I had someone in my family fill out a rental certificate (and sign it as my name!) stating they lived with a "relative".
Centrelink then took this as me not living with family and put me on the away from home rate which I wasn't "entitled to" and am being forced to pay it back now.
Angry that we knew it was a scam and they had the data to prove the claim was false but were counting on us to just pay up and say nothing.
Centrelink pretended they had no received a termination certificate which is their requirement.
The debt was fake and god knows where they got the $4500 from. It was a complete fraud!
I am getting calls from Dun and Bradstreet at least 3 or 4 times a day, including 7.30am on a Saturday morning.
I have told them repeatedly that this is being appealed.
I am crying constantly.
I don't have the money they say I owe.
My 'debt' of $1600 has caused considerable anxiety and depression.
I know without a doubt I do not owe any money as I accurately and faithfully reported my earnings every fortnight.
During the period in question, I worked for 2 different employers, one of whom has since gone into liquidation. Obtaining payslips was a struggle, particularly over the Xmas/New Year period during which my information was deemed due.
The establishing of this debt has been extremely anxiety-provoking and very depressing for me.
I have been "randomly audited" and interviewed for an hour, then asked to provide every voluminous financial detail they requested (in hard copy) - and I did.
on the 23rd of December I received the call from a collection company asking me for 15K and to my horror they wanted it straight away. I was not aware of the money owing or l would have paid it back.
I had to move out of my home, as i could no longer afford the rent.
i took about 2 months before i found a place to live.
i had to stop using my car during this time and i was living off friends couches and eating a non nutritious diet, just to get by.
Annoyed. It was 5 years ago. It was an oversight by Centrelink as I had given them all the info.
I now have to repay a lump sum which is not easy or convenient.
What business would be allowed to do this? "Oh. We made a mistake five years ago. You owe us $X."?