Compliance program

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

If you had a debt raised under the income compliance program,  you may be eligible for a refund. If you’re a past customer, find out what you need to do.

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 information from all of the following:

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

Income Compliance Program refunds

From July 2020, you may have noticed a change to your income compliance debt. This is if we raised the debt using averaged ATO income information.

What the Income Compliance class action is

In November 2019, Gordon Legal filed a class action lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of 6 applicants and other group members. You may also know this as the robodebt class action. The class action relates to Centrelink debts raised by income compliance reviews since July 2015. This includes people with debts that didn’t use averaged ATO income information.

In November 2020, the Commonwealth and Gordon legal agreed to a proposed settlement. The Federal Court approved the settlement on 11 June 2021.

Read more about the proposed class action settlement.

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 Fraud tip-off 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

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 your income affects your partner’s 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.

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 payment summary
  • 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:

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.

Proof of Life reviews

The Proof of Life process proves to us you’re alive and entitled to continue to get your pension. Only customers who live outside Australia and are over 80 will need to do this.

Read more about Proof of Life for:

Related subjects

Page last updated: 11 June 2021