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
Right before exam period approaches I get a letter to say I owe a mass amount of debt, absolute panic attack as I've never owed in my life and all of a sudden they want money in 14 days!
Requested a hold and a copy of DATA BREAKDOWN which allows you to verify what you reported so you can cross reference your pay.
Centrelink performed a data matching with the ATO.
The ATO had my earning $X for a particular period but centrelink had recorded $Y for the same period being less than the ATO.
They then decided this meant I had underdeclared my income.
Very stressful as I am already struggling on my current income.
There’s not a chance this debt could be accurate.
I received notice in August 2017 that I needed to confirm my income from 2012.
Panicking and unsure what to do, I spent hours going over old bank statements calculating the fortnightly net payments from my employer.
I am about to undertake my final exams for my degree (ever) and I feel very overwhelmed that they have just contacted me.
Very anxious and uneasy and have two exams this week. Can't stop thinking about it.
I was on Youth Allowance for a brief period whilst I completed my last year at University.
During the time I was working part-time and Centrelink are now claiming that I did not declare correctly and that I owe $3,547.00.
Two other people in my work place are having the EXACT same issue.
Last year (2017) I received a phone call to verify my earnings from the period of 2013-2015!
Are you kidding me? In those years I was studying, in 2015 all year, so would have been on Austudy and was working here and there over those years too.
Back in 2016 I started studying my Masters degree and signed up for Austudy, I also dropped my hours back at work to focus on my studies.
Submitted a FOI request and received a full spreadsheet showing all the calculations. Turns out my 'under-reporting' matches exactly how much tax I was paying for that fortnight.
This created a lot of stress to me, but Centrelink didn't care, just told me to contact Lifeline.
Not once did they try and assist when I asked as to how the debt was calculated.
I took it to the AAT, and I won.
Sole mother, immigrant, working full time, struggling with time to brush my teeth, have to deal back and fourth of centrelink-former boss-current boss with different types of requests and letters just to prove the debt is wrong.
I don't know who to get them to prove that I owe the money instead of me proving I don't owe.
Centrelink attempted to call me Friday 1st June 2018, staying they required proof of income during the Financial Year (FY) 2014/15 and 2015/16.
Well I’m still paying off another debt because in dec 2016 they paid me twice and then told me may 2017 that I had been overpaid in dec and that I had to pay.
I am currently on work compensation .
Stress and anxiety depression leave
This is affecting me greatly i cant sleep eat function always thinking
Got a call out of the blue from debt collector. Coerced to provide bank details for payments before I could think about it.
It’s a small amount but I don’t earn much now so debt is debt.
I did fortnightly reporting of income during the brief time on Newstart so how I’m here I don’t know.
I have just recieved my 1st payment deduction. I now recieve a $556 per fortnight. I used torecievd $662.
Thats almost 20%.
I'm fucked. Totally fucked.
I can't pay rent or bills, completely forget food & basic needs
Have cooperated with Centrelink from Day One. Nothing has been hidden.
Suddenly the pension was reduced to $70 p/f.
From there it has slowly increased to $105 p/f.
I received a letter from Centrelink stating that I was paid incorrectly, which led to a debt against my name.
I asked for a full breakdown of the debt so I could understand where the figures originated from. The detailed breakdown showed a couple of debts were accrued against my name in 2012.
I intend to appeal the debt. I am asking my university for evidence. In short, a decision maker in Centrelink decided to state that my higher degree was by course work, when in fact it is by research.
It has caused me some anxiety, but I know I have not done anything wrong.
Because of differences in reporting periods between my employer and Centrelink, they decided I had a debt of $66.
This would have been cheaper and easier to just pay out, but I couldn't leave it be, so I fought their claims and was vindicated.
This is not legal advice but I have just spent a week investigating and thought some of what I found out might be useful.
Really stressed about it, but Centrelink wont listen. This is the second time within twelve months.
When i first found out, i was furious, scared and angry.
This is my 4th year on Youth Allowance as I am studying in Melbourne and moved 2 hours to be closer to uni.
Heart sinking, stress,anxiety,feeling financial insecure.
My kids being affected due to my depression and anxiety.