Compliance program

Our compliance program helps protect Australia’s welfare system. It helps our customers avoid getting a debt or committing fraud.

What we do

We want to make sure you get the right payment and the right amount. Our proactive payment reviews help you to avoid owing money.

We know most people do the right thing. Sometimes people make mistakes and get paid the wrong amount. But any incorrect payments may result in a debt you’ll need to repay.

We investigate customers who may be withholding details or giving us false information. We refer cases with evidence of criminal behaviour to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

How we carry out compliance

Our compliance activities include:

  • identity checks
  • data-matching
  • data-mining
  • regular payment reviews.

We work with the public, other government agencies and the private sector, and share details about intelligence activities when needed. 

Currently, we partner with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Taskforce Integrity.

We also partner with the National Disability Insurance Agency and the AFP on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Fraud Taskforce.

We also use data from:

  • the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • the Department of Education
  • other sources to match income information reported by people who get a payment.

How we carry out past income reviews

We get information about your income from other government agencies, such as the ATO. This is for 1 or more past financial years. If that information is different to what you’ve told us, we’ll ask you to check and update your details.

We then work out what we should have paid you in that past financial year.

We’ll send you a letter to your myGov Inbox or by registered mail. If we can’t contact you using the address we have, we may suspend your payment until you contact us. We do this in line with the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999.

If you’re not getting a payment from us, we may ask a third party for your current address. We do this in line with our Privacy Policy. Read more about your right to privacy.

Understand how your income affects your partner

Your partner may have got a payment from us in that financial year. If this is the case, any change to your past income may affect their past payment.

It may be that your income was higher than what you told us at the time and we overpaid you. If that’s the case, we may have also overpaid your partner. This is because we use your and your partner’s combined income when we work out your Centrelink payments.

We’ll write to your partner to let them know we’ve asked you to check and update your past income. The outcome may affect their past payments. We won’t ask them to check or update their past income.

Once you’ve checked and updated your past income, we’ll write to your partner again to let them know the result. If we overpaid them, they’ll need to pay money back. We’ll also let them know if there’s no change.

Understand averaging

If we’ve asked you to check and update your past employment income, you need to tell us:

  • the exact dates you worked
  • the amounts you earned.

If you don’t, we’ll use the income the ATO told us you earned and the dates the ATO told us.

We’ll divide this by the number of fortnights you worked. This will give us an average of your earnings for this time. This could be for all or part of the financial year.

The hours you worked or the amount you earned may have changed from payday to payday. If this is the case, you should tell us the exact amounts you earned, using your payslips or bank statements. This is the best way to make sure you only pay back what you owe.

Using the ATO information works best when you work the same hours and earn the same amount each payday.

How you can help us with our compliance activities

You can help us to carry out our compliance activities.

Report fraud

If you think someone may be committing fraud, you should report it. There are different online forms to report fraud, or you can call the tip-offs and fraud line. You don’t have to give your name. We take all reports of suspected fraud seriously. Specialist officers assess the fraud reports we get.

Give feedback

We often test our letters and online systems. Read more about how we use market research to improve our services and products.

You can also let us know if our webpages have been useful and which pages we need to improve. You can use the poll at the bottom of most of our webpages to do this.

How you can make sure you comply

Keep your details up to date

If you’re getting a payment from us, it’s important to tell us straight away if your circumstances change. This is so we can give you the right payment.

The amount we pay you may also go up or down if something in your life changes.

Keep your partner’s details up to date

When you get a payment from us, we usually need to know your partner’s income as well as yours. You need to report changes in their income the same way you report changes in your income.

Keep important records

You need to keep all relevant records, such as:

  • financial statements
  • tax returns
  • payslips or group certificates
  • rental history
  • bank statements
  • any other documents that may help us and you.

This will help if we need you to check and update the information we have about either:

  • your and your partner's income, which may include employment, business, assets and investment income
  • other details that might affect your payments.

Respond to our requests

Please don’t ignore any letters we send you. Always respond to the requests in the letter by the due date. If we ask you to check your details, the quickest and easiest way to do this is using self service.

What reviews we run

We run a number of reviews as part of our compliance program.

Bank interest reviews

We check if the bank account details you told us are correct. We need to check we paid you the right payment and amount in the past.

Read more about our bank interest reviews.

Business income reviews

We check the business income you reported was correct and if we paid you the right amount in the past.

Read more about our business income reviews.

Family Day Care operator reviews

We check you’ve correctly reported the income you get from your Family Day Care operation.

Read more about our Family Day Care operators compliance reviews.

High risk change in circumstance reviews

Based on research we found there was a high risk of us overpaying people in certain circumstances. We now contact people in these circumstances to ask them to confirm or update their:

Past employment income reviews

We compare information from the ATO with the information you gave us about your employment income. If the income details we have for you are different, we’ll ask you to check and update them. This is for 1 or more past financial years.

In your letter, we will ask you to either:


Rent Assistance reviews

We may review your rent details to check they're up to date.

Trust reviews

We check you’ve correctly reported the income you get from trusts.

Read more about our trust reviews.

Page last updated: 14 August 2019

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