Centrelink overpayments and offences

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Centrelink overpayments and offences

Centrelink offences are serious. As well as incurring a debt, in some circumstances you can be charged with a criminal offence. This includes if you:

  • give false or misleading information to Centrelink
  • knowingly or ‘recklessly’ complete a form incorrectly
  • receive a payment that you know you are not entitled to
  • receive a payment at a higher rate than you are entitled to and know you are not entitled to that rate.

Deliberately receiving an allowance, pension or other benefit that you know you are not entitled to, is a criminal offence.

You can be charged, even if you pay the money back. Being charged with Centrelink offences can result in a fine or even imprisonment.

Get legal advice before you speak to Centrelink.

Common types of Centrelink or social security offences

Common types of Centrelink or social security offences may involve receiving a Centrelink payment:

  • and not declaring your income from employment or under-declaring your income, income from a business or rental property, or funds received from any other source
  • as a single person when you are in a de facto or marriage-like relationship
  • when you are no longer entitled to it
  • in more than one name – identity fraud.

Centrelink may investigate you

If Centrelink believes an offence may have been committed they will conduct an investigation.

If you are being investigated, Centrelink may invite you to voluntarily attend a formal tape recorded interview. They may also come to your home to ask questions.

If this happens, you should get legal advice before attending.

At the end of their investigation, Centrelink may refer the matter to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions who may then issue charges.

If you are charged get legal advice

Being charged with a criminal offence for Centrelink fraud or other social security offences is serious. If you have been charged, you should get legal advice as soon as possible.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with Centrelink.

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