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 have had my debt resassessed and it went up and down.
They have chased me 7 years after issuing the debt and I have already paid back $12000 of this.
Just before Christmas 2016, the letter mentioned debt collectors. From years before. No breakdown of the debt.
I was anxious and intimidated. I entered into a payment plan when I rang.
This debt has made me incredibly anxious, and the constant phone calls to Centrelink and from the robotic debt collection agency every morning when the hold on my debt for review 'expired' has been stressful.
I have autism and a phone phobia, and this process was incredibly difficult for me.
First debt letter arrived with the threat if I don't pay within 4 weeks my payments will stop and I may go to jail - panic!
Appealed and the debt increased - broken! (On DSP for mental health issues already)
I work in a seasonal job, full time but casual work for 9 months then 3 month seasonal winter break.
I was on the road when i got these emails and sms contacts stating that i owed $3500.
My son was expelled from school and on wait lists for alternatives.
Centrelink system said he was not enrolled in a school so I wasn't eligible.
I was also paying back over 100 per fortnight after a family member previously claimed my carers backdated two years (although I could prove otherwise nobody wanted to know).
I was notified of the debt after a call in September.
This debt was for my first year of university, but because I worked FT the previous year they had averaged my earnings.
I also worked for a public benevolent institution and receive allowances, so they were also calculating those back to April 2016.
I've been on this journey since coming back from Europe last September with a alleged #RoboDebt of initially $3800.00 then reduced to $3600 and ordered to pay, with as you know, NO REASON OR EVIDENCE.
The process has taken over 6 months i was under the impression it has been resolved and received a letter to say it had been recovered and the debt was due that week.
Now I have to wait another month for it to be appealed.
When I received the letter from Centrelink I was asked to report my income for 2011-2013.
I did exactly that and their system informed me that because what I had reported did not match their ATO data, I had to call Centrelink to discuss.
An ARO waited 7 months for me to send them documents to prove I do NOT owe this debt.
They then re-established the debt and started taking $128 out of my pension.
I have Chronic PTSD and having this hanging over my head has been a relentless nightmare.
5 hours spent on the phone over 10 separate calls with centrelink trying to fix this, 3 visits to centrelink, 3 days unpaid off work trying to resolve.
Been told 3 times by centrelink that it was being reassesssed... for nothing to come except a letter from debt collector saying we had an outstanding debt with centrelink.
I was shocked as I made sure I provided accurate records.
I am very stressed and angry.
In April 2018 I received a letter from centrelink stating that I owe $7,189.00 plus a 10% recovery fee for an apparent overpayment during 2010 - 2014.
They claim I must have worked while getting Sickness Benfits. (I was off because of a ruptured and Septic Apendix.)
Neither the Hospital, Doctors or Work would allow me to work with an open wound in Stomach!
It was extremely stressful and they automatically took money out of my fortnightly payment twice with no warning.
I spent hours upon hours chasing the debt up.
Loss of sleep, loss of appetite and memory mental capacity due to stress.
Depression!!! Thoughts of, how do I get out of this when even the proof is not good enough!
I received a letter from centrelink asking me to confirm that I had earned $30,000 for the year.
I had earned that money in 9 of the 12 months of the year, requiring Newstart support for the 3 months I was unemployed.
The debt was the result of my income (from sporadic casual work) being averaged out over the entire year.
Even after I provided proof of this, I still have the debt and am currently having my Austudy payments garnished for it.
I actually laughed when it first came.
It was around the time of the half billion dollar grant to an organisation that didn't ask for it and a time when politicians were under all sorts of scrutiny for the dodgy use of taxpayers' money.
Due to incorrect address recorded, did not even know this occured.
ATO garnished my tax return to pay this false "debt".
Took approx 3 months to get it back.
Had to provide employment records due the entire year as well as bank statements and statements from the employment agencies.
I have to repay part of my payment to Centrelink every fortnight because they won’t let me appeal it further.
I also now live alone so the financial stress is greater.
My parents handed me a letter in November 2018 they had received at their home that stated Centrelink had unsuccessfully tried to contact me at my own home address to have me re-report my income for a 12 month period from 4 years ago.
To breaking point. Constant stress day and night. Concern about how we can afford to live
I received an initial letter requesting employment confirmation back in 2015.
I attempted to fill out the online forms and dates for the last three years and of course it was all wrong.