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 had to change my living situation from student to job seeker in office.
I already suffer with anxiety and this has really taken its toll on me.
Mentally it has depressed me as I’ve had to go on medication as this issue has just tipped me over the edge.
Physically my body had broken out in a stress psoriasis, which I am now having to get treatment for x3 times a week.
Severe anxiety, chest pains, inability to sleep, focus very difficult.
Financial impact is debilitating.
Work has become extremely hard to focus on and I work in Mental Health !!
My debt was given to me in a letter saying I owe $20,000. They say I failed to update my study details.
This is my second debt. No one can explain to me how it has happened except my pay slips dont match up with my reporting.
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.