Owing money

If you owe us money your payments may be affected.

Letting you know

If you owe us money, we will send you an Account Payable letter telling you:

  • why you owe the money
  • the amount you owe
  • when the amount is due to be paid, and
  • how you can make the payment

We recover amounts owed to Medicare, Child Support and Centrelink.

If you are unable to pay the amount owing by the due date, please phone us. We can give you advice on payment options.

Your payments may be affected

If the amount owing is not paid by the due date, your payment may be reduced to help repay this amount. You may not be able to get an advance payment until the amount owing is repaid.

Read more about advance payment options.

Repayment of Centrelink debts

For income support payments, the standard repayment rate is 15% of your payment. If you have other income, such as earnings from employment or investments, the repayment rate can be higher. Different rates apply to other payment types.

If you have any questions about your income support payment being reduced to help repay the amount owing, or you would like to discuss the amount being deducted, please phone the Centrelink debt phone line. Indigenous customers can contact a specialist team by calling Freecall™1800 138 193.

Rate change

If we agree to a lesser repayment rate, it will be for 3 months. After this time the rate will be reviewed based on your income and assets.

If your repayment rate is going to change we will send you a letter 21 days before the new rate will take effect.

Making repayments

Before you make a repayment, you need to contact us by:

Payment method Information
myGov or Centrelink online account

If you are registered to use myGov or a Centrelink online account, use ‘Money You Owe’ in your Centrelink online account to make a repayment. Payments will be made through Australia Post’s POSTbillpay service link or through the Government EasyPay Service.

The Billpay code and your reference number can be found on your Account Payable letter or on any other letter we have sent you listing the options to make a payment.
Direct debit To arrange automatic deductions from your financial institution account, please phone us on the Centrelink debt line or Indigenous customers can phone the Indigenous Australians line.

You can make payments using BPAY by phone or internet banking. You can access this service through your financial institution.

The Biller code is 21915. Your reference number can be found on your Account Payable letter or any other letters you receive from us that have payment options displayed.

If your financial institution allows a BPAY payment to be made from your credit card, you may be charged additional fees or interest by your bank. You should check this before making a payment.

Read more on the BPAY website

Australia Post

In person: Payments may be made at any Australia Post office or postal outlet using EFTPOS, cash, cheque or money order. Use the barcode on your Account Payable letter or any other letters you receive from us that have payment options displayed.

You may also request a payment card to allow you to make regular payments at any Australia Post office or postal outlet. Please phone us on the Centrelink debt line, or Indigenous customers can phone the Indigenous Australians line, to arrange for a card to be issued to you.

Payments can also be made through Australia Post’s POSTbillpay service:

By phone: call 131 816

Online: on the Australia POSTbillpay website
The Post Billpay Code is 0802

Mail A cheque or money order should be made payable to:
Department of Human Services
Collector of Public Monies
Locked Bag 33
GPO Brisbane QLD 4001

Failure to repay

If you do not repay your debt by the due date, and we have not agreed to extend the time for repayment, we may take other action including:

  • referring your account to a collection agency such as Dun and Bradstreet
  • reducing your income support payments to help repay the amount owing
  • referring your case to our solicitors for legal action, or
  • issuing a garnishee on your wages, your tax refund, or other assets and income, including money you may hold in a bank account

External collection agencies

Dun and Bradstreet is a collection agent we contract to follow up outstanding Centrelink debts. They may phone you or send you a letter. If you get a letter from Dun and Bradstreet it is important you contact them immediately to discuss your payment options.

The privacy and security of your personal information is protected while your account is with Dun and Bradstreet and your credit rating will not be affected.

If you have a complaint about the service you receive from a collection agent, you can provide feedback with our Customer Relations Unit. Read more about complaints and feedback.

Recovering overpayments from other Australian Government departments

Deductions may be made to recover money owed to other Australian Government departments, including the Department of Veterans' Affairs. We also recover some overpayments on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development New Zealand.

We will let you know if we are going to recover any of these overpayments from your income support payments.

Bankruptcy and debt agreements

If you’re unable to make repayments, you may consider entering a debt agreement as a way of managing your debt and avoiding bankruptcy. A debt agreement is a legally binding agreement between you and us. If a debt agreement is unable to resolve the debt, you may still enter into bankruptcy.

Entering into bankruptcy or a debt agreement does not eliminate all debts, but we will not recover some debts for the duration of your bankruptcy or agreement.

You must take steps to begin the debt agreement process and advise all creditors. To read more about or begin the debt agreement process, visit the debt agreement overview page on the Australian Financial Security Authority website.

An administrator will contact us with details of your case. We'll review your outstanding debts, take the appropriate action and advise you in writing of the outcome.

Page last updated: 2 September 2016