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Tips For Dealing With Centrelink

Centrelink relies mainly on its clients, tip-offs (there is a tip-offs section) and data matching with a super computer nick named "Darth Vader" for the accuracy of its' computer information. This computer carries out data matches with millions of records from banks, the tax department etc. 24 hours a day. This is needed as accurate information/data means accurate payments for Centrelink clients. If the information is incorrect then clients payments will be underpaid/overpaid (with possible debts). So, all Centrelink clients should call Centrelink on 13 62 80 to advise of any changes in circumstances. Of course keeping Centrelink up to date with your correct details does not mean everything will be correct 100% of the time. Things can go wrong due to human error and other faults. So, here are some tips for dealing with Centrelink so that only accurate information is in their files (it should also help to win any appeals).
  • Be honest and do not lie to Centrelink. The chances are that they will eventually find out any changes in circumstances, relationships, income, employment etc., and probably raise a debt and may even prosecute.
  • Notify Centrelink as soon as your situation changes. If your payments increase Centrelink that may not back date the increased payments. If your payments decrease Centrelink will raise a debt and may even prosecute.
  • Go into a Centrelink office at least once a year and visually check the screens of your file and make any corrections. Also check the accuracy of any notes made on the comments screen.
  • Find out if you have a One Main Contact (OMC) staff member and get their details so that you can contact them if needed (although Centrelink prefers it when you contact Call-Centres).
  • If possible obtain screen dumps of your computer file notes and any other screens to do with your payments.
  • Check the history (eg. page 1 of 9) of any screens updated since you last checked and make sure they are correct.
  • When providing original documents get Centrelink to copy and return them, they should stamp the copies "original sited and returned".
  • Keep all correspondence from Centrelink in one place in date order.
  • If Centrelink calls you in for an interview and accuses you of any deception/crime say nothing, leave immediately and hire a lawyer. This will prevent you from becoming confused with their questions and accusations and incriminating yourself.
  • If you contacted a Call-Centre get a receipt number from the staff member that you spoke to.
  • If you advised Centrelink of any changes in your situation, send a letter detailing the above points and the end result of the phone call (and keep a copy on file).
  • If possible try to become familiar with the actual legislation that applies to your payments.
  • Download a .pdf version of the Centrelink Codes Decrypted article from this site. These codes tell you what all of the abbreviations mean that Centrelink staff make on your file. This file came from so if you use them don't forget to send them a thank you message.

When you contact Centrelink keep a notebook/log of:
  • Who you talked to and their direct phone number (if possible).
  • When you contacted Centrelink.
  • What was discussed.
  • What (if any) action was to be taken.

Remember, every time someone contacts Centrelink about a client the details are supposed to supposed to be entered into that clients file/computer record. Importantly if someone outside Centrelink tries to gain access to a record illegally (impersonating someone else during a phone call) details of what resulted will/should be noted on the file. Keeping thorough notes will help resolve any errors with your file and aid in any appeal against a Centrelink decision.

Additional tips for when you contact Centrelink by telephone can be found at the Centrelink web-site here.