Centrelink kicked off an automated debt recovery system at the end of last year and it failed horrendously. Over 200,000 automated debt letters were sent to Centrelink payees, 20% of which, Centrelink admit, were sent to people who owed nothing.
So, there are around 40,000 people who’ve received the stress-bomb of a false debt recovery letter through the mailbox. What’s worse, it’s up to the receiver of that letter to prove to Centrelink that they made a mistake. If the numbers on your Centrelink letter don’t quite stack up, and you believe you’re being ripped off, read on my friend, because we have a solution for you!
GetUp is on the case, they recommend that anyone who received one of the 200,000+ potentially incorrect debt letters, submit their debt to Centrelink for review. They’ve developed a website called Fraudstop to run you through how to do it.
Armed with your contact details, your Centrelink reference number (CRN), and a reason why you believe your debt notice may be incorrect, the system will allow you to appeal your debt letter in under five minutes.
At the same time, using the same form and website, you can also submit an FOI request for your Centrelink file, send a request for assistance to your local MP and make a complaint to Social Services Minister Christian Porter.
Mark Connelly at GetUp explained the system was developed because according to whistleblowers, “Centrelink appeal officers are being directed to correct errors only when the customer managed to identify exactly what’s gone wrong, which can be next to impossible without full access to Centrelink’s files and detailed knowledge of their inner workings.”
Of course, there is a small amount of risk to undertaking this process, and GetUp do note that nothing on the site can be taken as legal advice, and that “very occasionally, a review may end up in you receiving an even higher debt. The likelihood of you receiving a better outcome far outweighs a worse outcome, but we can’t rule this out.” They say if that occurs (or if you have any other centrelink-related legal quagmires you want to sort out), you should get in touch with Legal Aid, who may recommend you seek another appeal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Mark wants to see FraudStop.com.au shared ‘far and wide’, so that “anyone who has received a false debt letter can more quickly submit an appeal.
“We also encourage affected people to seek advice from their legal aid society or other legal support about their individual case.”
…and then once the whole process is behind you and you are cleared of all accusations of debt-fraud, be like Bec. Take your letter, and BURN IT DOWN.
Bec, 28, burns her letter from Centrelink in Redfern: pic.twitter.com/2tSgvV6UaP
— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) January 18, 2017
Take some action
Visit Getup's Fake-letter buster hereBust them fraudsters