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
My story is alike many others on this site. The debts have been raised againat me for overpayment more than 15 years ago. I visited the office and declared my wages etc and declared my change in circumstances and Domestic Violence.
I apparently owed $2??? But yet they have taken my whole tax check of $4235 without notice also part or the debt was Centerlink saying I only paid $240 per fortnight rent when I sent them the lease agreement and informing them I have paid $240 per week for the last 2 + years at the same address and through a rental agency !!
Was contacted in Sep 2017 to provide payslips and confirm income. Thankfully I had email payslips and confirmed it.
At the time I received notice of this debt I was having chemotherapy. I was not on any payment whatsoever as I living off my savings and the few pays I was owed from my employer. I didn't actually apply for any type of Centrelink payment until September 2016 so how could I have a debt.
This has got to be the most stress I have ever been under. I work seasonally and make sure I save enough money so I only have to be on Newstart for a few months until I start work again. Usually, by the time Centrelink processes my application I only receive a few payments.
It has caused mental health and stress levels to sky rocket, unstable work and life balance as an outcome, endless time and money costing me to chase records from my old closed bank accounts and pay to get statements printed out from old archives. Very unprofessional and very incompetent of the Australian government.
I was issued a $4000 debt because of my husband's payslips, (which were all declared, but Centrelink always claims they are not years later) for a payment I never received. I have also had my FTB taken at tax time this year to pay the debt.
Request this be investigated 5 times, only 2 times repayments were paused. Initial debt was July 2014-June 2016 for $4700, however since beginning of it being investigated this has changed multiple times, both with the amount AND the time period.
The stress of all this debt is not anyone should have to go through. In November 2015 I had lost my job because of my violent ex partner abusing my boss. Start of 2016 I left my ex partner and i took 2 of my 3 kids because I couldn't handle the abuse I was receiving from her.
My debt started back in 2010. I was offered a full time position which meant i was back in the work force, no more struggle days. At the time i was a single mum of 2 girls and there were times where we would live on 2 minute noodles but made do. So when i was offered a full time position i was stoked!
I have been paying $40 a fortnight since 2017 they assured me my wages and tax returns would not be touched because I was in a payment plan (They have never touched it before this year)because of a debt for underestimated income.
They gave me no letter or phone call and took my whole tax return $2800
My partner and I were switching full time roles as parent/student, thus switching payments of Parenting and Austudy. What should have been two simple applications proved otherwise.
Horrific dumb and just a joke. Went on maternity leave on 31 Aug 2010 returned first week of sep 2011 so 1 year unpaid leave.received first payment in Oct 2010 bub was nearly a month old.
My deabt is in appeal and has been for close to 12 months. They have put a hold on debt recovery for 3 months because the appeal still hasn't been processed and told me it can take up 2 years. But they took all my tax return of $1200 even though they have put a stop to recovering the debt.
My husband was out of work for 3 months and while he never received a single payment from centrelink, I was receiving parenting payment to support the 4 of us as I was on unpaid maternity leave.
They say I did not tell them I was in a relationship, it was in the system but not logged. it accrued the debt and now I'm asked to pay $50/fn due to some incompetent Muppets mistake.
The robot debt said I claimed $10,000 less than what I was actually paid. That thought I only claimed half my pay. I realised they had my work place of 4 years under two slightly different names (the second name was missing the PTY Ltd). If a person was reviewing my account, they would have noticed this.
This is a random letter, there isn't even a date on when the debt was accrued. I have had a phone call as well. I have not received any FTB for years. We are not on any type of govt benefit. We are trying to deal with the current drought. This is just stupid!
Tax returns taken
Unsure no notice given just pay up
Once it became close to EOFY, Centrelink decided to me with a bill of $2200 bacause according to them I never reported my earnings properly. I was speaking to a lady on the phone for over a month give my gross amounts for the year 2017. I have verbally give all gross amounts from 2017 - 2019.
I am a bloody mess. I'm a single working mother of 2 girls. Doing the right thing for centrelink. I don't earn much. But I try and get by. I'm going to struggle now. I have since been to the doctors and got on some anti depressants.
I nearly lost all my family tax payment and am suffering financial hardship as I’m only working part time and am too scared to claim a payment because I don’t want any more “over payments”! They make up the rules as the go along! They took my reconciliation payment!
After being hit with the initial letter I was left feeling extremely anxious and hopeless. I have aspergers and it’s extremely hard for me to communicate with people and stand up for myself. So, for me, paying it rather than fighting it was the only option.
I'm without words. I don't know how it happened, I never missed an appointment of purposefully under reported. I was never told during two years of tax returns anything was wrong.