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 deferred my university course for just 6 weeks in September. I had developed anxiety and carers stress while caring for a sick relative.
The first I new of my debt was from a text from the debt collection agency.
I called them and they straight away demanded payment.
I was on income protection and sickness benefits and it seems i incurred a debt of 5.5k
During the period of any paid work I notified centrelink and submitted payslips.
Online self service showed nil amount from Centrelink.
Also at the branch.
Then in early 2013 applied for TAFE and then received AUSTUDY after 6 months of entering TAFE.
I first received a online in August letter saying that I needed to confirm my income.
The lady on the phone stated that I owed $7,000 in debt as I had under reported my earning. The lady also went on to make me feel like a criminal by going on how this was wrong and how did I intend to pay this back.
Centrelink took money out of my tax return without my knowledge or consent for a debt that I never owed them.
I received the letter in October 2017.
The debt was for the period of time I was paid Austudy and was studying part-time at university.
I got four letters in total: one for the $13,000; and three for the start of semester payments of $1025 each.
Earlier this year i received a call from Centrelink along with letters claiming that i owe them $14,000.00 approximately due to "overpayments"
They demanded immediate payment without any kind of explanation nor provided any kind of break down of how he debit occurred.
I am one of the many who has received a Centrelink debt from 7 years ago!
Original debt was $17700 had it reviewed and sent payslips it was cut to $9500
I said it’s still not right I want proof on how they got that figure but never heard back and they took my sons family tax payment.
Now they send another debt of $7200
I received a letter from Centrelink in December 2017, saying I potentially owned them a debt for Youth Allowance back in 2013-2014
Increased anxiety, worried about getting behind again financially.
It was like they didnt believe me, i told them about what they wanted but wanted so much information from years ago.
It took so long together. It was very tense in my household while I gathered everything
Was phoned yesterday by centrelink, the young lady on the phone said, "I am averaging out your income across the year."
I have always earned very little, and have definitely been entitled to my centrelink payments as often i earn under $450 a fortnight.
Centerlink slapped me with a 3k fine/debt for a period I was overseas.
I arrived back in November 2013 from UK and claimed 2 new start payments only.
I have proof of this from bank statements which i opened with NAB on the 5th of November.
I have put in a date for the first letter but as it has been proven I did not own a cent to Centrelink I threw the letters out so I can only guess the date of the first impertinent letter.
I am very distressed and angry that this has happened
I have a 9 month old son, and Centrelink called me while I was putting him in the car.
He was crying and I was trying to do two things at once, I thought it was a scam and I told them to send me a letter if it was real and hung up on the person.
Not eating or sleeping and effecting my parenting and working capabilities
It’s very hard I don’t make much money as it is after I pay rent, water, power, child care, food, public transport to work, etc.
don’t have heath insurance, death etc can’t afford it.
I rely on my tax return money for my son to get him clothes shoes things for school.
Now this hits you it’s not fair at all.
I got a $3000 debt for a year I earnt $5800 - Even if I reported $0 for every single fortnight I would of only been overpaid by less than they claim I was overpaid. I reported correctly in this time.
In my case the ATO data was completely incorrect and it was easily fixed when I provided bank statements.
I'm sorry for everyone who is struggling to provide evidence.
I haven't even been on centrelink for over a year, and they sent me letters a few months ago once I lodged my tax return saying that I need to update my employment details (as I moved to full time from casual)
Stress, spending repeated half days on the phone after working long night shifts, zero consideration to this.
Making work very much harder due to sleep loss.
Being gaslighted repeatedly, supplying requested documentation then told it was not provided at a later date.
Affecting family time due to exhaustion, repeatedly.
I had just come off night shift and when I got the call I just could not stop crying.
Apparently i owe them 2000 during 2016-2017 which is total crap considering i reported properly.
I cant afford to pay for something that i dont have to its hard enough to pay to live as it is.
The government needs to pull their heads out and stop taking money from the less fortunate.