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‘They called more than 10 times a day’: Sinister tactics of debt collectors paid millions by Centrelink

24 February 2017

It starts with a barrage of text messages telling you to urgently call a number. Then the persistent phone calls, sometimes more than ten a day.
Then come the letters telling you to pay “immediately” or risk “further recovery action”, including taking the money directly from your wages or bank account, or seizing your assets.
These mysterious antagonists are the debt collection companies paid millions by Centrelink to wage campaigns of harassment against unsuspecting Australians.

Illawarra pensioner caught up in Centrelink debt letter ‘disaster’

7 February 2017
Illawarra Mercury

Whitlam MP Stephen Jones has used federal parliament’s first sitting day for 2017 to take aim at the government’s Centrelink debt recovery system “disaster”.
Mr Jones on Tuesday told the story of Margaret, a 77-year-old pensioner from his electorate, who received a debt notice of $467.44 as part of the automated system.

Bass Labor MP Ross Hart concerned by Centrelink online compliance system

29 January 2017
The Examiner

Bass Labor MP Ross Hart says his office is doing the work of Centrelink staff, assisting constituents with contesting and resolving letters sent to them from Centrelink demanding repayments of welfare.
Mr Hart said that his office has 21 Centrelink complaints on file that his staff are working to resolve, with “many more” complaints in the past two weeks.
Mr Hart added that he is concerned for Centrelink staff who are struggling to deal with the situation.

Robo debt: Andrew Leigh 'inundated' with letters from affected Canberrans

30 January 2017
Canberra Times

Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh said his office had been "inundated" with letters of angst, fear and frustration as more than 50 Canberrans contacted him about their Centrelink robo-debt woes so far this month.
The heartbreaking stories of financial stress and worry were a reminder of just how tough it was to get by on the poverty line and highlighted the "crude way this [process] was being carried out", with people who do and don't actually need to pay back money.


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