Jump to content

Centrelink Debt Letters from 15 years ago? HELP!


  • Please log in to reply
69 replies to this topic

#51 born.a.girl

Posted 18 September 2019 - 09:30 AM

View PostIamzFeralz, on 18 September 2019 - 08:42 AM, said:

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.


So true, and yet they justify it because it's brought back so much money, despite the information being well into the public realm, that many people have paid it because 1) they don't have the ability to challenge the debt, 2) they don't have/can't access the relevant paperwork to prove the error, 3) they believe they must be in the wrong.

My daughter was in the third category.  If she'd had $2.5k she'd have paid. She'd have been too mortified to tell me (an accountant) that she'd stuffed up so badly that this had happened. She thought that she clearly was so stupid that she couldn't even follow the guidelines of income reporting.  (There was actually not even crossover between benefits and income.)  She only told me when she came to me in tears when the debt collectors called.


When she again needed to go onto Newstart, she was too afraid of the consequences to do so.   Despite my encouragement, she lived on income from work about two days a week.  I finally succeeded in getting her to apply again on May 2nd.  Still not paid, over four months later, despite ongoing, significant communication with Centrelink.  Best bit was them telling her she hadn't been paid because she hadn't told them what was in her bank account in Afghanistan.  Told she needed to provide evidence that she didn't have money in the bank account in Afghanistan.  How do you provide evidence of something that doesn't exist?  No one can tell her how that info got into the system, but three weeks ago she went into the office to sign a declaration that it wasn't true.  Still nothing.  When she last contacted them, they said that it had been long enough for her to update her bank details again.  Once before they later said it was blurry (it was a screen shot) and that's why it hadn't progressed.  (In the Centrelink office the staff confirmed nothing was blurry.)  It's honestly like something out of Kafka.  I pity the poor staff having to deal with this system.

ETA: Sorry about the rant. It just makes me furious that those who have no knowledge of the system, don't have any idea how bad it is - they read the stories and think they're exceptions.  I have a neighbour who works in the social justice area and can't believe the stuff she's hearing about our daughter's newstart claim.

Edited by born.a.girl, 18 September 2019 - 09:38 AM.


#52 Lunafreya

Posted 18 September 2019 - 09:40 AM

Can I say the best people to call at Centrelink are in the Complaints Department. You always get through to a human being (even if you have to wait a while) and I have always found the staff there to be professional and competent.

Now whenever I have an issue I need to talk to Centrelink about, I only call Complaints. They have no issue with fixing whatever I called for and don't even ask me if I have a complaint or comment!

#53 BECZ

Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:19 AM

View PostLunafreya, on 18 September 2019 - 09:40 AM, said:

Can I say the best people to call at Centrelink are in the Complaints Department. You always get through to a human being (even if you have to wait a while) and I have always found the staff there to be professional and competent.

Now whenever I have an issue I need to talk to Centrelink about, I only call Complaints. They have no issue with fixing whatever I called for and don't even ask me if I have a complaint or comment!

Yes, but if everybody does that, people who really need it will not be able to access it.  Those people are there to help those who really need help to resolve their problems and have tried to rectify it using the regular avenues.  Not for those who think they are too important to wait in the queue like everybody else and have their issues resolved by the everyday Centrelink operator.

#54 Lunafreya

Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:23 AM

View PostBECZ, on 18 September 2019 - 10:19 AM, said:

Yes, but if everybody does that, people who really need it will not be able to access it.  Those people are there to help those who really need help to resolve their problems and have tried to rectify it using the regular avenues.  Not for those who think they are too important to wait in the queue like everybody else and have their issues resolved by the everyday Centrelink operator.

The problem is you don't wait in the queue. Many times I have called the regular number and instead of putting me on hold they hang up on me. In the end I gave up calling the regular number as I just could not get through. In Complaints you DO wait in the queue, sometimes for a while, and don't get hung up on.

#55 born.a.girl

Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:28 AM

View PostBECZ, on 18 September 2019 - 10:19 AM, said:

Yes, but if everybody does that, people who really need it will not be able to access it.  Those people are there to help those who really need help to resolve their problems and have tried to rectify it using the regular avenues.  Not for those who think they are too important to wait in the queue like everybody else and have their issues resolved by the everyday Centrelink operator.

It's a valid point, but the waiting times on the regular lines are both horrendous and not even guaranteed to be answered.

My daughter still does the regular lines because she's at home moving around doing other things.

Not everyone's got that luxury.  No one who is time or income poor should be forced to wait those times.

On that same note, the day I went with my daughter to Centrelink, they asked if it was urgent. She did only have $300 in the bank so would have qualified, but we said no, because I was concerned that cases weren't dealt with by need, but that another name would cause someone else to wait longer.  I regret that now.  Last phone call she had over $500 so they can't expedite it. The only fecking reason she's got that money in her account is she's not having to pay us board and money for her car (that we lent her) is because she;s not getting any Centrelink money.

#56 Lesley225

Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:24 PM

 TheGreenSheep, on 18 September 2019 - 07:48 AM, said:

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.

Did they explain how they managed to do this?

#57 TheGreenSheep

Posted 18 September 2019 - 09:38 PM

 Lesley225, on 18 September 2019 - 07:24 PM, said:



Did they explain how they managed to do this?
No. No explanation or even an apology for the distress. And yes I know hoping for an apology from Centrelink is like believing in unicorns.
Even the staff who rang me called from private numbers and any attempts to return calls was difficult. I will admit the day my child finished in daycare I was happy to never deal with them for large rebates or entitlements.

#58 Lesley225

Posted 19 September 2019 - 05:42 AM

Most/all public servants will ring from private numbers - it's the way it goes through the phone systems.

It was just that it was such a huge amount and an appaling mistake.  even if  you coulnd't check all debts why couldn't you set up a system to check  them over a certain amount.  It's unlikely such debt would occur  unless for major fraud and not something to issue without checking.

#59 TheGreenSheep

Posted 20 September 2019 - 12:59 PM

View PostLesley225, on 19 September 2019 - 05:42 AM, said:

Most/all public servants will ring from private numbers - it's the way it goes through the phone systems.

It was just that it was such a huge amount and an appaling mistake.  even if  you coulnd't check all debts why couldn't you set up a system to check  them over a certain amount.  It's unlikely such debt would occur  unless for major fraud and not something to issue without checking.

Makes perfect sense to the person receiving the debt letter that you would like to think that they would double check or error check above certain amounts or thresholds before sending, with a four week to pay demand. Common sense just doesn't enter into it Im afraid :shrug:

#60 steppy

Posted 20 September 2019 - 01:02 PM

View PostBECZ, on 18 September 2019 - 10:19 AM, said:

Yes, but if everybody does that, people who really need it will not be able to access it.  Those people are there to help those who really need help to resolve their problems and have tried to rectify it using the regular avenues.  Not for those who think they are too important to wait in the queue like everybody else and have their issues resolved by the everyday Centrelink operator.

Hmmm. Wondering if there's anyone on Centrelink who doesn't really need help when they're calling.

#61 TheGreenSheep

Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:23 AM

View Poststeppy, on 20 September 2019 - 01:02 PM, said:



Hmmm. Wondering if there's anyone on Centrelink who doesn't really need help when they're calling.

As someone who answers a phone as part of my role, you’d be amazed at the weird and wonderful and totally unrelated questions I am asked daily. So I wouldn’t be surprised if people use/misuse the Centrelink call Centre numbers. You only have to watch those ambulance shows to see the volume of people who abuse the 000 line.

#62 BadCat

Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:35 AM

View PostMoneypenny2014, 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.


FTB debt is not robodebt.  It doesn't fit within this definition at all.

1.  FTB is not welfare
2.  Income is not reported for FTB

Call  Legal Aid VIC and ask if you don't believe me.

Edited by BadCat, 22 September 2019 - 08:39 AM.


#63 Sentient Puddle

Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:47 AM

How do you define not "welfare"?  By the govts definition?  By any social policy definition it would be right smack on the money.

#64 FiveAus

Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:56 AM

View PostSentient Puddle, on 22 September 2019 - 08:47 AM, said:

How do you define not "welfare"?  By the govts definition?  By any social policy definition it would be right smack on the money.

It's not welfare, it's a benefit of the tax system. And it's not covered by welfare (social security) legislation. It has a legislation all of it's own.

#65 BadCat

Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:57 AM

Welfare is a murky definition depending on how you want to use it,  but usually it refers to a payment made under the Social Security Act.  FTB is a benefit under the tax system.

Whether you want to consider FTB welfare or not, income is not reported for FTB.

Edited by BadCat, 22 September 2019 - 08:58 AM.


#66 Sentient Puddle

Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:11 AM

By any social policy definition - welfare is a payment or rebate that contributes to the overall social wellbeing of the population.  By using a very narrow legislative definition we fall into the trap of only seeing benefits like newstart as "welfare".  All monies paid or rebated to individuals, families and companies that contribute to the overall wellbeing of the society is welfare.  This focus just on those on benefits is really galling as the revenue forgone from govt coffers due to tax breaks amounts to shed loads more of the govts annual revenue than paid to those on "benefits".  

The history of the Family Tax Benefit (A and B) is also an interesting one and although hotly debated is certainly an attempt by govts (Keating and Howard included) to recognise the economic and social contribution of the non working spouse (mostly women).  This evolved out of other benefits such as the dependent spouse rebate etc and has been a key feature of Australia's welfare landscape for decades.  Just because in the current climate it is not politic to call a welfare measure a welfare measure - it certainly is a welfare measure!

Edited by Sentient Puddle, 22 September 2019 - 09:11 AM.


#67 Mose

Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:11 AM

View PostBadCat, on 22 September 2019 - 08:57 AM, said:

Welfare is a murky definition depending on how you want to use it,  but usually it refers to a payment made under the Social Security Act.  FTB is a benefit under the tax system.

Whether you want to consider FTB welfare or not, income is not reported for FTB.

If I understand this correctly, this means the whole FTB scheme is administered by the ATO?  (I am basing this on the assumption that FTB is income dependent, and therefore has to take account of income somehow, but as you say is actually a tax benefit.)

Which makes sense.

What is odd is that the OP's letter was from Centrelink, and she sorted it out by phoning Centrelink.

I don't understand why Centrelink, as a theoretically uninvolved government agency, should even have had access to the data (be it correct or incorrect).  My first thought is that this would actually be a breach of the ATO's privacy guidelines, as there would be no valid reason (unless you were also on other income dependent benefits) for Centrelink to know anything about this.

If they have now moved on to using Centrelink's Robodebt software to attempt to resolve what are actually tax matters I find this pretty troubling.

But given it seems this is a tax matter, and all communication was with Centrelink, I am wondering what other explanation there could be?

#68 BadCat

Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:27 AM

Centrelink pay FTB.

It's a Family Tax Benefit.  It's based on your annual taxable income. You can claim it fortnightly by estimating your income which is then compared with your tax return.  All of this is done through Centrelink who get your taxable income figure from the ATO after you lodge a return.

The point is that you do not report your income fortnightly as you must with a typical welfare payment.  And fortnightly reporting is the crux of robodebt. It matches your tax return with what you have reported.  Because for a social security payment you report actual income, you don't estimate.

Edited by BadCat, 22 September 2019 - 09:29 AM.


#69 born.a.girl

Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:29 AM

In a way it's true that debt letters issued, which are not correct, is robotic.  It must be hellishly frightening to receive a letter demanding $15k.  If there were to be an enquiry into Centrelink as a whole: adequate staffing levels, adequate software etc. then definitely errors like that need to be taken into account, but definitely not under the Robodebt heading.

It might sound pedantic to anyone who's received those FTB debt letters to insist it's different, but the reason is the solution.

In the OP's case, all she had to do (with the 'all' in irony font) is call Centrelink and the realised their error. The burden of proof was put on Centrelink to show why the amount was owing.

With Robodebts, the burden of proof is reversed.  If you rang them about a Robodebt, they might be able to tell you a little more about it, but nothing they can do will fix it.  The recipient is the one who has to provide the paperwork (frequently unavailable, often due to employer error) to prove that they don't owe the money.

The solution is in the legislation, in the case of Robodebts.  That's not the case with the other debts, be they valid or otherwise.


I've seen people on EB say they do such and such with their income estimates as they don't want to end up with a Robodebt, which is ridiculous.  If we don't clearly understand the problem, we won't get a solution.

ETA: And in fact the misunderstand or lack of understanding about this is one of the reasons the Libs were returned.  The number of intelligent, otherwise well informed people I've spoken to who don't understand what's happening really surprises me.  I guess unless it affects you, you don't read in detail.  Once I've explained to people they're actually gobsmacked that there's an attempt to match annual income with fortnightly entitlements.

Edited by born.a.girl, 22 September 2019 - 09:34 AM.


#70 Mose

Posted 22 September 2019 - 02:16 PM

View PostBadCat, on 22 September 2019 - 09:27 AM, said:

Centrelink pay FTB.

It's a Family Tax Benefit.  It's based on your annual taxable income. You can claim it fortnightly by estimating your income which is then compared with your tax return.  All of this is done through Centrelink who get your taxable income figure from the ATO after you lodge a return.

The point is that you do not report your income fortnightly as you must with a typical welfare payment.  And fortnightly reporting is the crux of robodebt. It matches your tax return with what you have reported.  Because for a social security payment you report actual income, you don't estimate.

Thank you.  That is a really clear explanation.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

'My parenting style is Survivalist'

A helicopter or tiger mum, I am not.

8 mums reveal their favourite nappy bags

We asked a bunch of mums which nappy bags they love the most.

Why you shouldn't bother throwing a big first birthday party

If you're feeling the pressure to host an all-out, over-the-top shindig for your baby's birthday, I hereby grant you permission to throw the rules out the window.

The 24 baby names on the verge of extinction this year

If you're on the hunt for the perfect baby name and don't want a chart-topper like Oliver or Olivia, then do we have the list for you.

'My mum doesn't seem that interested in my baby'

Q: My mother and I have always been close, but now that I have a baby, she has not helped out as much as I thought she would.

New guidelines: "Bottle-feeding mums need support too"

Breast is best, but mums who can't, or choose not to breastfeed need support too.

Dads also struggle to 'have it all', study finds

Men and women both experience work-family conflict.

Language development may start in the womb

Study found babies can recognise foreign languages before birth.

Meet the baby born from an embryo frozen for 24 years

Experts say little Emma is a record breaking baby.

 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Articles

Advertisement
 
 
 

From our network

Five things you need to know about flu and pregnancy

As the 2017 flu season begins in earnest, here?s what you need to know to protect yourself and baby.

Mum tips to keep your pre-baby budget in check

Money might be funny in a rich man's world (or so ABBA told us), but for the rest of us it's a major consideration – particularly before having a baby.

5 easy ways to make your maternity leave last longer

Maternity leave is a special time for you, your partner and your new little bundle. The last thing you want is for financial worries to stand in the way of that joy.

10 ways to keep your 'buying for baby' costs down

Becoming a parent is full of surprises – not least of all finding out that, for such small beings, babies cause a lot of chaos and expense.

5 ways to prepare to go from two incomes to one

Here are some ideas for getting that budget in shape, ready for being a one income family.

 

Baby Names

Need some ideas?

See what names are trending this year.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.