Owing money

If you owe us money, you will need to pay us back.

If you no longer receive a Centrelink payment but owe us money, use Money You Owe to pay your debt in full or to set up a payment arrangement. Sign in to your Centrelink online account through myGov and select Money You Owe.

Letting you know

We’ll tell you if you owe us money. Our Account Payable letter will tell 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

You might get a call from us to talk about your debt and how to pay it. We may send you an SMS or ask you to call us back on one of our Debt Recovery phone numbers, 1800 076 072, 1800 138 193 or 1800 462 425. These numbers are genuine and are not a scam.

Payment of Centrelink debts

If you get a Centrelink payment

Your payment may be reduced to help you pay back your debt. The standard rate is 15% of your income support 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.

You may not be able to get an advance payment until you have repaid your debt. Read more about advance payment options.

Contact the Centrelink debt phone line if you have questions about the amount of money being withheld from your payment. Indigenous customers can contact a specialist team.

Payment rate change

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

If your payment rate is going to change, we’ll send you a letter before the new rate starts.

If you no longer get a Centrelink payment

If you still owe us money, we can ask you to pay off your Centrelink debts at any time.

You can use the Money You Owe service to pay your debt in full or to set up a payment arrangement.

Sign in to your Centrelink online account through myGov and select Money You Owe.

There are different ways you can repay your debt.

Payment method Information
Credit card

You can make a payment using your Visa or Mastercard by using myGov to access the Money You Owe service in your Centrelink online account.

Direct debit To arrange automatic deductions from your bank account, use myGov to access the Money You Owe service in your Centrelink online account.
BPAY

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

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

If your bank allows you to make a BPAY payment from your credit card, you can do so. However, your bank may charge you additional fees or interest. You should check this before making a payment.

Australia Post

In person at Australia Post: Payments can 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 get 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 the Indigenous Australians line if you’re Indigenous, 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

Contact the Centrelink debt phone line if you can’t pay the owed amount by the due date so we can tell you about payment options. Indigenous customers can contact a specialist team.

Failure to pay

If you don’t pay your debt by the due date, we will ask the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to send us your tax refund to help pay your debt off faster.

If you aren’t repaying your debt over time or if we haven’t agreed to extend the payment time, we may also:

  • add an interest charge to your debt
  • refer your debt to an external collection agency
  • reduce your income support payments to help pay the amount owing
  • recover the amount from your wages, other income and assets, including money you may hold in a bank account
  • refer your case to our solicitors for legal action
  • issue a Departure Prohibition Order to stop you from travelling overseas

Interest charge

You won’t be charged interest if you:

  • are currently receiving a Centrelink payment
  • have entered into an acceptable payment arrangement, and
  • continue to honour that payment arrangement

Departure Prohibition Orders

We may issue a Departure Prohibition Order if you are not repaying your debt. It will stop you from leaving Australia until you pay your debt in full or enter an acceptable payment arrangement.

We don’t need a court order to stop you from leaving Australia.

External collection agencies

Dun and Bradstreet and the Probe Group are collection agents we use to follow up outstanding Centrelink debts. A collection agent may phone you or send you a letter. If you get a letter from Dun and Bradstreet or the Probe Group, it’s 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 or the Probe Group and your credit rating will not be affected.

If you have a complaint about the service you receive from a collection agent, you can give us feedback. Read more about complaints and feedback.

Recovering debt for other Australian and New Zealand Government departments

We may deduct money from your Centrelink payment to recover money you owe 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’ll let you know if we’re going to recover any of these overpayments from your income support payment.

Bankruptcy and debt agreements

If you can’t make payments, consider entering into 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 tell all your creditors. Read more about how to begin the process of a debt agreement 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.

If you don't agree with a decision we've made, you have the right to ask for a review and appeal the decision.

Page last updated: 1 January 2017