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Centrelink Debt Letters from 15 years ago? HELP!


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#26 *holdontight*

Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:03 AM

 Mister Mum, on 17 September 2019 - 08:42 AM, said:

Fight it.  My partner had a robodebt raised which she challenged, reduced from 3k to 2k, then another appeal had it cancelled altogether.

Just keep pushing back and asking for it to be reviewed.  Again and again.  Make it not worth thier while.

This, I think I can work out how it happened but its probably wrong, if you separated during a financial year these robodebts don't take it into account so there's no adjusting income etc.   I'm not up on all the details explicitly but its more than likely C/L is in the wrong.

So keep pushing, ask for proof how they worked it out & like others said contact your local member for parliament etc.  Given what you've said I think theres enough to cast doubt on the debt.

Good luck, it would be so stressful.

#27 Moneypenny2014

Posted 17 September 2019 - 12:05 PM

UPDATE I phoned Centrelink yesterday and was put through to three different sections with no one being able to explain how the debt was incurred because a) it was so far back and b) there was nothing obvious on the system such as ex DH submitting tax returns or what triggered the debt in the first place.
The last girl was so lovely and helpful and went out of her way for me - she spoke to a technical specialist and they established that Child Support had incorrectly applied by second husbands income to my "family income" for a period of 5 years before I had even met him and whilst I was still married to my first husband! And this information flowed over to Centrelink.
So the dates and income are being reversed and hopefully this will result in things going back to the way they were before!
Thank you everyone for your support! Hopefully this is the last I will be posting about this and the next letters I receive will have nil balances :)

#28 born.a.girl

Posted 17 September 2019 - 12:31 PM

 Moneypenny2014, on 17 September 2019 - 12:05 PM, said:

UPDATE I phoned Centrelink yesterday and was put through to three different sections with no one being able to explain how the debt was incurred because a) it was so far back and b) there was nothing obvious on the system such as ex DH submitting tax returns or what triggered the debt in the first place.
The last girl was so lovely and helpful and went out of her way for me - she spoke to a technical specialist and they established that Child Support had incorrectly applied by second husbands income to my "family income" for a period of 5 years before I had even met him and whilst I was still married to my first husband! And this information flowed over to Centrelink.
So the dates and income are being reversed and hopefully this will result in things going back to the way they were before!
Thank you everyone for your support! Hopefully this is the last I will be posting about this and the next letters I receive will have nil balances :)


This is what you get when things are not run past human beings for a 'reasonableness' check before they're sent out.




A lot of the Newstart Robodebts might never make it to the recipient if someone just looked at the dates provided on the PAGY summary, and automatically queried each and every one that said the person started work with them for the first time, on the 1st of July.   If that had happened, my daughter's employer would have been the one obliged to provide the information (or else!) instead of my daughter having to prove she only started work in the April of the following year.

Only 1/365 would be accurate.

ETA: The staff are wonderful.  Lord only knows how they put up with having to fix they system's shortcomings each and every day.

Edited by born.a.girl, 17 September 2019 - 12:32 PM.


#29 BornToLove

Posted 17 September 2019 - 01:36 PM

This might be of interest to you OP (and other who have had similar happen to them):

https://www.abc.net....ounced/11520338

#30 IamtheMumma

Posted 17 September 2019 - 01:48 PM

Thank goodness MP2014. How's your heart now?

I'm grateful that we have a welfare system but they stuff up so often its not funny.

#31 amaza

Posted 17 September 2019 - 01:55 PM

This is the massive problem with Robodebt. There are no checks and the system is SO SO flawed that it is ridiculous.

Imagine someone who didn't have enough credit on their phone to sit on hold and then be transferred to 3 different people? Imagine the people who went through hell 15 years ago and just can't remember what happened or what relationship they were in? Imagine the people who just don't realise what to ask for or how to ask for reviews?

This system has literally cost people their lives and it's disgusting that it has been allowed to continue.

I have an idea, let's spend all the money we can apparently spare for the cashless card and put it into fixing the system so messed up that it raises incorrect debts 15 years in the past and then actually sends them out. Far out.

#32 born.a.girl

Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:23 PM

 BornToLove, on 17 September 2019 - 01:36 PM, said:

This might be of interest to you OP (and other who have had similar happen to them):

https://www.abc.net....ounced/11520338


Thanks for that, there's a discussion on The Guardian, too.

Will get my daughter to sign up.

She's had one year adjusted because the employer filled out a separation certificate for her.

The second year was supposed to be sorted too, according to Centrelink.  8 x months later, she gets notification that the debt's back.  The employer forgot to sign the second form. That employer, has sold the business, still works for them, but claims she can no longer sign anything in that capacity.

Centrelink staff suggested getting a stat dec because the employer made not one, but two mistakes, (and also illegally didn't give pay slips), to point this out, and if that wasn't successful, to appeal.


Next step after that will be Josh Frydenberg, our local member.

Then we might follow up her current employer's failure to pay any super for the last 18 months.

#33 purplekitty

Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:37 PM

This government is the absolute worst.
What a disgrace to implement such a sh*t system for sh*t reasons and not care about the results.

#34 Gudrun

Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:52 PM

MP2014 I'm aghast at that story. Good one for the class action.



#35 born.a.girl

Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:55 PM

 Gudrun, on 17 September 2019 - 02:52 PM, said:

MP2014 I'm aghast at that story. Good one for the class action.

Hopefully it's sorted, but what a shock.   $1500 would be bad enough (my daughter's was $2500, now $1500) but $15,000?

All errors, employer & government put back on to the powerless individual to solve.

#36 Moneypenny2014

Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:12 PM

The only issue is that until Child Support and Family Assistance complete the rectification of the error (evidently underway) the debt will sit there so if it’s not fixed by the due date of the debt (10 Oct) they can still come after me for payment because Debt Management is a completely different section to Family Assistance and they don’t talk to each other. It’s a joke. The whole system is disgusting and I query it’s integrity.

#37 born.a.girl

Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:15 PM

 Moneypenny2014, on 17 September 2019 - 03:12 PM, said:

The only issue is that until Child Support and Family Assistance complete the rectification of the error (evidently underway) the debt will sit there so if it’s not fixed by the due date of the debt (10 Oct) they can still come after me for payment because Debt Management is a completely different section to Family Assistance and they don’t talk to each other. It’s a joke. The whole system is disgusting and I query it’s integrity.

What we were advised (by Centrelink), is to tell the debt management people that it has been resolved (been resolved) and that in time that information will filter through to them.

The bloke calling my daughter said that 'oh well, we do need your information anyway, just to set it up in the system' and fortunately she said that it wasn't going to be necessary, rather than give in to their demands.

There IS no integrity.

#38 Moneypenny2014

Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:32 PM

 born.a.girl, on 17 September 2019 - 03:15 PM, said:

What we were advised (by Centrelink), is to tell the debt management people that it has been resolved (been resolved) and that in time that information will filter through to them.

The bloke calling my daughter said that 'oh well, we do need your information anyway, just to set it up in the system' and fortunately she said that it wasn't going to be necessary, rather than give in to their demands.

There IS no integrity.

Oh my gosh that is literally what they said to me - call Debt Mgmt to advise them to put the debt on hold as it had been resolved and the man I spoke to this afternoon did not care and told me that until FA removed the debt it would remain there and that I was still expected to pay it by 10 October. He could see the FA notes on the system also.

There is a class action against Centrelink happening now regarding these robo-debts. Something has to be done because it is completely out of hand. I didnt realise how bad it was until it happened to me and I started researching it :( Feel so sorry for anyone affected by it.

#39 BadCat

Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:40 PM

OK, just wanna point out that this is nothing whatsoever to do with Robodebt.  Robodebt is about those payments where you report fortnightly income, not FTB.

Good outcome though OP.  Glad you got it sorted.

#40 Lesley225

Posted 17 September 2019 - 11:31 PM

It's still about income matching by the system without personal oversite.

#41 alchetta

Posted 18 September 2019 - 12:38 AM

DP

Edited by alchetta, 18 September 2019 - 12:39 AM.


#42 alchetta

Posted 18 September 2019 - 12:39 AM

 BadCat, on 17 September 2019 - 09:40 PM, said:

OK, just wanna point out that this is nothing whatsoever to do with Robodebt.  Robodebt is about those payments where you report fortnightly income, not FTB.

Even so, I encourage everybody who has been given the runaround by Centrelink to inform the class action, because at least then a whole lot of real life experiences are going to be legally documented in one place even if they aren't part of that actual class action.
Evidence creates pressure to change. And the government's approach to human services needs to change.

#43 born.a.girl

Posted 18 September 2019 - 06:05 AM

 BadCat, on 17 September 2019 - 09:40 PM, said:

OK, just wanna point out that this is nothing whatsoever to do with Robodebt.  Robodebt is about those payments where you report fortnightly income, not FTB.

Good outcome though OP.  Glad you got it sorted.

 alchetta, on 18 September 2019 - 12:39 AM, said:

Even so, I encourage everybody who has been given the runaround by Centrelink to inform the class action, because at least then a whole lot of real life experiences are going to be legally documented in one place even if they aren't part of that actual class action.
Evidence creates pressure to change. And the government's approach to human services needs to change.

I haven't looked closely at the class action yet, which I'll encourage my daughter to join, but the problem with labelling every debt letter which comes out of Centrelink now as a Robodebt  of how that actual debt is being caused, which is completely unrelated to the others.  I've corrected people twice even on EB, where you'd think they'd know what a Robodebt is, when they've been overpaid something 'because I don't want a Robodebt'.

It almost needs an enquiry to show that a significant amount of this is being caused by employers.   If my daughter's first employer had written the correct dates on her PAYG summary, and given payslips, she'd never have one in the first place.  She then forgot to sign one of the separation certificates and now refuses to.

I told her to remind her current employer to write the correct dates on her PAYG summary.  She didn't.  I said to take it back and ask for it to be corrected. She said it was correct because it was a summary for the whole year. This despite the 'instructions to employers' specifically saying the the opposite. She doesn't give payslips (illegal).  Separate point but also hasn't paid super for 18 months.  Fortunately she sent a summary of the pay ledger three months after the end of the financial year so my daughter was able to use that when, yep, Centrelink said your statements to us do not match what YOU told the tax office.  Um, no, what the employer told the tax office.  If she hadn't been able to provide that evidence, like she couldn't the first time, that would have resulted in a debt.

That's a Robodebt, trying to match annual income with fortnightly entitlements.

If someone got a high paying job in May after being on Newstart for ten months under the above circumstances, they'd be told they owe the whole lot of newstart back.


When I talked to one of the Centrelink people for her on the phone one day, I asked him how many were being caused by employer error and he said about a 1/3.

But of course all we hear about from the government is the leaners.


(I speak as someone who owned a small business for 25 years, if you can't hack the paperwork you shouldn't be in business.)

#44 BadCat

Posted 18 September 2019 - 06:39 AM

 Lesley225, on 17 September 2019 - 11:31 PM, said:

It's still about income matching by the system without personal oversite.

They'd have to employ about 10,000 extra people to have a human personally check every debt.  And while they certainly need more staff, that level of checking is never going to happen no matter how hard anyone pushes.  So conflating FTB debts with Robodebts does nobody any favours. It just muddies the waters.

#45 Moneypenny2014

Posted 18 September 2019 - 06:59 AM

For those that said this wasn’t a robo debt I beg to differ. This is the definition according to Legal Aid VIC -

Centrelink is using an automated system to try to detect overpayments to welfare recipients. The system uses information held by government agencies, usually the Australian Tax Office (ATO), and compares whether it matches income reported by a person to Centrelink.

This is exactly what happened to me. The system used income information held by the tax office  for my second husband and matched it against what I had reported to Centrelink for family assistance. It obviously differed because my second husband wasn’t even part of my life back then I was still married to my first husband and a debt letter was generated.



#46 born.a.girl

Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:18 AM

 Moneypenny2014, on 18 September 2019 - 06:59 AM, said:

For those that said this wasn’t a robo debt I beg to differ. This is the definition according to Legal Aid VIC -

Centrelink is using an automated system to try to detect overpayments to welfare recipients. The system uses information held by government agencies, usually the Australian Tax Office (ATO), and compares whether it matches income reported by a person to Centrelink.

This is exactly what happened to me. The system used income information held by the tax office  for my second husband and matched it against what I had reported to Centrelink for family assistance. It obviously differed because my second husband wasn’t even part of my life back then I was still married to my first husband and a debt letter was generated.


It sounds like a keying entry error though.  You didn't have to provide evidence, they saw their mistake when you called.

With Robodebts, the total responsibility is on the recipient, there is no error on the part of Centrelink.  You can't just call and have it sorted.

#47 Noodlez

Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:31 AM

 born.a.girl, on 17 September 2019 - 07:40 AM, said:



Good thing you had an employer who gives you payslips

I know!! That’s what I raised in my letters to ministers. It’s totally ridiculous that robodebts even exist. I was lucky it’s much harder for people who can’t get payslips or maybe worked for places that shut down.

The calculations they use are totally wrong. In my case I only received a payment for part of the year but they took my annual income and divided it equally across a whole financial year. Part of which I wasn’t in employment and the other part I wasn’t receiving any benefits.

#48 born.a.girl

Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:38 AM

 Noodlez, on 18 September 2019 - 07:31 AM, said:

I know!! That’s what I raised in my letters to ministers. It’s totally ridiculous that robodebts even exist. I was lucky it’s much harder for people who can’t get payslips or maybe worked for places that shut down.

The calculations they use are totally wrong. In my case I only received a payment for part of the year but they took my annual income and divided it equally across a whole financial year. Part of which I wasn’t in employment and the other part I wasn’t receiving any benefits.

That;s what's happened in each of my daughter's three 'issues' with Centrelink (two robodebts, and one 'your figures don't match' request').

The one job she had, where she had Centrelink benefits, AND the employer put the correct date on the PAYG summary, not an issue.


Fortunately with the new system of even small employees having to report pay periods to the ATO (which of course many of them lament as being onerous - tough, blame the employers who've done the wrong thing, not the government) will eliminate a lot of this.   This should have been instigated before any income matching occurred.  it's going to be looked back on as a horror period for anyone entitled to government benefits.

I mean, really, how many people start work on the 1st July?  1/3 of those who only work for part of the year?  There's a far, far easier way for at least this problem to be solved.

For every PAYG summary that states someone started on the 1st July, write to the employer asking them to confirm very first day of work.

The old Group certificates used to say 'if the employee didn't work for you the whole year, write here the appropriate dates'. You could leave it blank if they were ongoing employees.

Now they say 'period these payments apply to'.  When I commented in The Age about this, THREE people responded to me saying 'ah no, that's correct, it's the summary for the whole year'.  Yeah, that's why it says 'payment summary for the year ending 2019'.  Like they'd expect you to write the exact same dates again.  I'd like to strangle the person whose idea that was, it's too open to interpretation.

#49 TheGreenSheep

Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:48 AM

I’ve been issued a debt by Centrelink for every claim I ever made for childcare assistance and any entitlement I have ever received. I was given 4 weeks to pay the full amount or else I was going to have the debt collectors sent.

It was not a scam.

I almost vomited on myself.

Strange thing was most of the debt incurred was non means tested allowances at the time, so no reportable incomes or ATO info required to claim, or I hadn’t reached the ceiling for claiming etc.

The debt was over several years of working and kids were in daycare at the time.

They gave four weeks to repay 30K+ and it took almost four weeks to sort.

Edited by TheGreenSheep, 18 September 2019 - 07:49 AM.


#50 IamzFeralz

Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:42 AM

That is dreadful TheGreenSheep.  It’s a scheme to try their luck in extracting money from people based on algorithms.  Nor everyone would have the ability to challenge a debt or to sort things out.   Like spam they would rely on a small minority just paying up out of anxiety to make it worth their while.

I can’t see how normal people can justify that.




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