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
In mid Nov 2016 was advised by letter of an overpayment made to me by Centrelink during Jan-June 2011 while I unemployed (Jan & Feb), and then working casually from March 2011. I called Centrelink immediately as I felt the dates regarding my unemployment and employment were not accurate, and that the debt raised might be incorrect.
I work my butt off & have not received any benefit from Centrelink for over 3 years. I am living week to week & just manage. Now to have this debt suddenly appear & be told my only option is to contact my ex & see if he has pay slips for May 2013. The stress of a bill, No way do I want to contact my ex. Even more stress.
My first encounter with a debt from Centrelink, came as a quick call from a so called Debt Collector asking for $9650 at the end of Dec, 2015.
Centreclowns lost our income records that were approximately 3 years of statements and readjusted without notice the TAX level to the very first entry they had on record which was way lower than we currently earned in TAX and had appropriately gave copies to Centreclowns which could not be found ?
I received may debt in September '16, before the robot debt recovery became highly publicised and we were aware of the fraudulent nature of how it is accessed. I was on newstart in 2010 for a limited time after I finished school. Very little information was given to me about how the debt had occurred..
I was stressed out and paid the debt because I felt I had no other option
I cannot begin to explain the amount of stress and anxiety that this has brought me. This a supposed debt that occurred 5/6 years ago, what is with that. This is a debt that is not and never was real
Only found out about my apparent debt after harassing and intimidating calls from Dun & Bradstreet. They convinced me to start a fairly high repayment plan even though I said I was going to dispute. Turns out disputing so far has been a nightmare with me having to attempt to recover supporting documents from 6-7 years ago ( I was 16 ).
Anxiety over the financial burden created when we were always upfront about any income received and the situation that created the need for sickness allowance...having paid income tax for over 30 years and to be treated like a criminal is very upsetting
I am losing sleep and precious time trying to re-appeal the process, despite their clear indifference to my situation. My Centrelink payments are being reduced despite the reviews being IN PROCESS, which places extreme stress on my financial situation.
This has been a very frustrating process that makes sure to instill a sense of hopelessness. I went into Centrelink the date I received my debt to dispute it in disbelief. They wouldn't let me talk to someone and referred me to an online dispute site.
Centerlinks system can access my tax details from the ato so are saying i have been over payed, i have contacted centerlink 3 times and have given proof that my tax has been done, every time i contact them i get the run around, my benifits have now been cut this is very distressing for my family as my partner is not working atm
This debt comes at the worst time, my partner had her contract finished so she just started a new work, but we had to get a 30k pay cut. Now we cant afford much extra and that extra stress is coming.
My wife is extremely anxious and that makes her anxiety levels go through the roof.
I am, for the first time in many years, unemployed following illness. Incidentally, I am not eligible for Centrelink so it is rather ironic that today I received a bill for $1821.97 stating this was for the full amount of Family Tax Benefit I received between 1/07/13 and 30/06/14.
This is the second debt I have received via centrelink the first which was a mistake made by the ato. I have paid this first debt, like they told me to while the investigation was underway and I would be reimbursed the amount. It has been over 18months since the investigation and have not received reimbursement.
Currently renting, studying and working part-time. Retrieved a debt letter in my letter box last week. Firstly I thought this can't be real, has to be a scam, then my gut sank. Closer inspection revealed this debt has come from Centrelink and handed on to a debt collection service.
Over the last 4 months, i have spent over 30 phonecalls with centrelink trying to resolve the issue (Clearly Documented on paper) Their computer system did not work, i had to take off time from work to see centrelink, their IT system is no help and frankly their staff are uninterested in helping resolve my issue.
Many months before I finally received a short term contract at the age of 70, I wrote to Centalink. I also went and visited them and gave them a copy of my contract and asked could they please take me off the aged pension.
We have no idea how we can get this debt, we didnt claim family tax benefits. We are both in defence and cant get FTB.
So I have already been on here to tell my story but I am back again! So annoyed now as Centrelink not now the right information I spoke to someone on 5th Jan and they said you get reassessed then appeal but no not what I got told yesterday that day in January.
Debt Owed From FY 2012 - 2013..... I cannot believe that Centrelink have the hide to charge an extra $235 debt recovery fee on top of the amount I apparently owe???
If I don't pay the outstanding amount of $2,800 by a certain date I would have been charged interest???
What the hell......
Aside from the financial hardship of having to pay such an enormous amount of money to the government - which I do not believe to be legitimate - this has caused a great deal of anxiety as recourse and appealing the decision is such an arduous process.
I was studying as a mature age student & was on Austudy. I picked up some part time work. I actually reported every cent i made & was still being paid the full amount of Austidy. I rang centrelink & told them there had to be a mistake & they said it was ok & that I had working credits. Years later a debt.
Basically our whole parenting payment for two years ($17K) plus incurring a FTB debt last financial year for under- estimating our annual income.
I received a random text message while I was away on holidays informing me to call a number, so I called it back and it ended up being a debt collection agency for centrelink informing me that I owe $8045.39, I was shocked and irritated as I had not been on Centrelink for over 5 years so why are they chasing me for money now?