If you don’t take action to repay a Centrelink debt

Actions we may take if you haven’t started repaying your Centrelink debt.

We may have to take further action if, by the due date, you haven’t:

Legally, we have to recover money that’s owed to us.

Please call the Centrelink Debt Recovery line before your due date if you can’t repay money you owe. We can work with you to find an option that best suits you.

Interest charges

We may charge interest every day after the due date if you either:

  • haven’t repaid the money
  • haven’t set up a payment arrangement
  • don’t have a pause on your repayments
  • aren’t having amounts deducted from your Centrelink payment.

The interest rate we use is the general interest charge. You can read more about interest charge rates on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Employers, banks and other organisations

We may ask your employer, bank or other organisation to help us recover money you owe.

We may also ask the Australian Taxation Office to garnishee your tax refund.

We’ll write to you to explain the action we have taken.

External collection agents

We may refer your debt to an external collection agent. We only do this as a last resort when we can’t recover money in other ways.

The agents may contact you by text message, phone or letter.

The agents we may refer your debt to are:

  • Milton Graham, formerly known as Dun and Bradstreet
  • Probe Operations (Probe)
  • ARL Collect Pty Ltd (ARL).

If you get a letter from one of them, it’s important you contact them straight away. They’ll talk to you about your payment options.

Your personal information is secure and protected while your account is with a collection agent. Your Centrelink debts won’t affect your credit rating.

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

Departure Prohibition Orders

If you're not repaying your debt at a suitable rate, we may issue a Departure Prohibition Order. It'll stop you from leaving Australia until you either:

  • pay your debt in full
  • enter into an acceptable payment arrangement.

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

Page last updated: 6 April 2022