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 can't sleep, I am constantly stressed and irritable and I have no idea how I am going to pay it all back.
I'm a 35 year old single female who suffers from an anxiety disorder living in Sydney away from my family in Adelaide.
I was on a disability support pension and was required to report every fortnight. I followed the reporting to the T. I jumped through the hoops as required and did everything that was required.
Many hours and days were wasted trying to resolve this error that was caused by a 'computer glitch' ha ha, where my youngest child's initial entry to Australia (permanent resident visa) had been overlooked in the system and suddenly, all these years later we were being asked to repay family tax benefit for this period of time stat
On returning from overseas on 3/12, the Centrelink website would not let me report employment income. I went in to the Centrelink office on 19/12 and reported income. On 1/1/17 I reported online but the website said it accepted, but could not process my report.
I lost my job. I went on newstart. I found a job that was 22.5 hours a week - 3 days per week. So ring Centrelink AND my job provider to understand what I need to do as far as reporting as I AM SO SCARED I am going to get money from Centrelink that I shouldn't get. I don't want to receive it and then pay it back.
I was on the phone to Centrelink, talking to a very lovely lady (it was years ago, so date and exact amount are approximate). We were working through something, updating details or something, when her computer froze. She couldn't figure out what happened. She apologised, and asked if she could put me on hold while she tried to fix it.
I went through the online process alone the first time, and got a debt generated of $5,200.95 - I freaked!
I feel angry and upset. I am a hard working honest person, my community's government is treating my like a thief. Totally devastating!!
I have not received centrelink since 2014. On January 12, I got a centrelink sms, telling me to check my 'my gov' account. When the website finally let me login, I discovered $2615.52 debt owing.
Another False Debt being raised by the Government. My employer no longer exists and because I cannot provided payslips I cannot prove my earnings for the period, and have been "assumed" that I earnt income which I didn't. Centrelink won't listen and have issued a debt.
I knew as soon as I got the debt letter that it was wrong. I work intermittently and receive a part pension. It took several calls over a few weeks with the most recent being over 1.5 hours to clear the erroneous debt and was not a great way to start a new year.
At the beginning of October I received my debt letter totalling $789.53 for the three months that I was claiming Centrelink benefits between early Nov 2014 and mid Feb 2015.
I now have a $820 debt on top of trying to pay back the ato, child care fees, child support. Anxiety levels through the roof. I'm only just making it pay cheque to pay cheque. I never thought I would end up with a debt all of a sudden. I feel scared of them chasing me for it.
The debt was tiny and ridiculously old. The data they had used to infer the debt was obviously wrong. Luckily I could find the payslips in my email archive. No real stress, just a waste of time.
This whole thing has had nothing but made me angry and anxious.
I was studying claiming Austudy or youth allowance or something then suffered a horrific ordeal which left me incapacitated with severe PTSD, I coudn't seek help and continued to live off the student benefit but was failing all my uni subjects.
I think it is absolutely ridiculous and greedy that this has happened. Given the fact Centrelink are taking $100 a fortnight out of my Centrelink pay, I really couldn't care less (it's their money anyway, and I earn enough to not have it crippling me).
I received initial letter of intent at the start of November 2016...I complied with everything I was required to do eg.. provide documentation and letters of support from my employer and yet I still received my bill of $3196 on the 5/12/2016...due date 3/1/2017.
This is a disgrace, it was 4.5 years ago it's going to be a mammoth task to find everything to prove them wrong, it's not a small amount of money and being on Carers pension isn't easy, this is stretching budgets to breaking point.
I am the mother never seen my girl so stressed, wants to give up in her life, due to this , we need help
This "debt" was incurred whilst I was a 78 year old worker. I reported all my earned wages to Centrelink by phone as required. I received a letter in October 2016 asking me to confirm income information online (I have never had a computer and never used one). I am forced to repay $136.80 per fortnight out of my Age pension.
Well it started out at $12,485.31. And I sorted it all out over the phone before xmas, and the person from centrelink admitted there was a huge mistake by there part and I no need to worry. Thinking it was all done and dusted, I received a letter today saying the amount is now $6,497.10.
Very busy time of year, compounded by a death in the family, but the point is that it should not have happened.
My life has drained as currently looking after 8 kids 5 kids of my sister and 3 kids of my own, my marriage was always like a boat, never settle or separated and he lived at his mum house some years and months and we go back. I am genuine and always worked and got shocked that I got $42k debt not sure why?