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Failure to Check Their Own Records

Debt amount: 
Date debt issued: 
Thursday, 7 September 2017
Period debt occurred: 
February 2015
Has your case been referred to a collection agency?: 
Payment Type: 
Newstart Allowance
Appealing Debt?: 
Yes & I won
Tell us about your debt and how has this affected you? e.g. anxiety levels, financial and accommodation stress: 

Received a letter, so I called the number given — was startled at how quickly the phone was picked up; here I was, prepared internally for a 1 hour wait.

Was told that I needed to provide a pay slip or bank statement from 3 years ago. I've since changed banks, and email accounts, so no luck there.
I was told if I couldn't supply that, then I would incur a debt (inflection in the operators voice heavy with poorly hidden accusation and blame).

A bit perturbed, I called my previous bank, but was told I'd have to go into a branch to talk with them.
Was thinking about my "debt" all night, trying to work out what it was from — I got a 4 week payout when I lost my job, which I told Centrelink about, but that was the only thing I could think of.

Called again the next morning to try to find out exactly when and how much the debt was (again, got through in 2 minutes).
Talked to a lovely lady who gave me much more detail; my separation certificate gives my termination date 2 weeks after when I actually stopped working (and had applied for Centrelink), so I'd be looking at 19 days over-payment which is roughly $700-800 (I calculated the last bit).

I told her I'd been hospitalised, and that I was on a lot of medication at the time so I can't really remember much, but then she said if I had a minute, she'd check the other system to see if I'd submitted a medical certificate for the week I was in hospital.
I had submitted it, so the matter was closed.

Summary: Centrelink appears to be very aggressive when data-matching with the ATO, but still hasn't put the effort in to data matching on their own systems (unless it can get them money).
I didn't have to supply any paperwork to Centrelink, because I'd already done that on the dates in question.

More information would have been very helpful on the initial letter/phone call, but I'm glad I got through to a wonderful lady later who was very helpful.

How do you feel about the way the Government has handled this process?: 

I can understand the rationale behind wanting to make sure people aren't lying about their income.
That said (and as an aside), Centrelink doesn't make it easy to stay truthful (reporting income when you earn it vs. reporting it when you get paid — do the right thing and you can end up without money for 2 weeks).

Re: the "Robodebt" system - the number of false debts (including mine) and thinly veiled threats regarding payment make it impossible to believe that the Department of "Human Services" serves anyone other than Canberra's political agenda.
The onus on people to prove they haven't committed fraud is inherently against everything that Australia is meant to stand for — the claims made against me were tenuous at best prima facae, and after Centrelink looked through their own records, the alleged debt was dropped.

Shame, Mr. Tudge; you run a system you have no interest in fixing, because it doesn't (and won't) directly effect you on your parliamentary salary/retirement fund.