The process when you've been overpaid
1. We identify an overpayment and check if you owe us money
We may notice you’ve been overpaid after you tell us of a change or complete a review.
Once we know you’ve been overpaid, we check if you have a debt that you need to repay.
You may not need to repay money if:
- we can offset the overpayment by deducting it from your next payment
- the overpayment is small and not cost effective for us to recover.
If you don’t need to repay money, this is where the process ends.
2. We contact you to explain why you owe money and what you need to do
If you need to repay money, we’ll always send you a letter. The letter will show how much you were overpaid and explain why you owe money. The letter will also include a due date when you need to start repaying the money. We send this in the post or online to your myGov Inbox. Sometimes we may call you or send you a text message. Make sure you check it's us and not a scammer.
You can also see if you need to repay us money in the Money you owe service of both your:
There are steps you can take if you:
- want us to explain why you were overpaid
- disagree with the debt
- can’t start repaying the money by your due date
- are considering a debt agreement or bankruptcy.
Otherwise, you’ll need to start repaying the money.
3. You repay or start repaying the money by the due date
The due date is usually 28 days after we send you the letter.
If you get a Centrelink payment, we’ll deduct money from your payment. You don’t need to do anything, but you can change how much we deduct.
If you no longer get a Centrelink payment, you should either:
- repay the money in full
- set up a payment arrangement.
Sometimes we’ll also recover money in other ways. For example, when you do your tax return.
4. You haven’t repaid or haven't started repaying by the due date
By the due date, you need to have done one of the following:
- repaid the money in full
- set up a payment arrangement with us
- got an extension to your due date.
If you haven’t, and you’re not getting a Centrelink payment, we may:
- charge you interest
ask your employer, bank or other organisation to help us recover the money
- refer your debt to an external collection agent
- issue a Departure Prohibition Order.
In rare situations, we may take legal action.
We only take these actions as a last resort if we haven’t heard from you. So please contact us before the due date if you can’t repay the money.
Help when you've been overpaid
If you need help, information or support, you can:
- find out what to do if you disagree or can’t repay a debt
- contact a social worker
- find out about our Financial Information Service (FIS) and how a FIS officer can help you
- read about how to deal with debt.
You can also access information about your past Centrelink debts.
You may take extra steps before repaying a Centrelink debt in some situations. This includes having your debt reviewed or entering into a debt agreement.
Actions we may take if you haven’t started repaying your Centrelink debt.