Centrelink is trying to recover $3 BILLION in over-payments in order to help the Gillard Government achieve a balanced budget in 2013. The basic technique for working a fraudulent scam is to simply ignore the 6 Week Rule. A copy of this rule is located at the end of this blog. Here is how this scam was applied to a member of my extended family late last year. It is found in part one of a 5 part download of the Social Security Act
[ NOTE the shortlink to this blog is http://wp.me/p1n8TZ-2a ]
- “Tom” (an alias) received an increase in his pension from the British Government.
- “Tom” reported this increase to Centrelink using the information provided by the British Government.
- Centrelink stuffed up and miscalculated the payment that “Tom” should receive and overpaid him for a year or so.
- When Centrelink finally discovered their mistake, they sent “Tom” a letter of demand, pointing out that he had been overpaid and that his Centrelink pension would be reduced by 15% until the “debt” was repaid.
- “Tom” could not afford to loose 15% of his pension and went to the Centrelink office at Elizabeth to discuss the letter.
- The Centrelink customer service officer (CSO) that he spoke to agreed that 15% was too much and was agreeable to a repayment rate of $20 per fortnight.
- “Tom” then popped a copy of the 6 week rule that I emailed to him and asked why the debt should not be waived as per the 6 week rule. (FROM HERE ON THINGS GOT VERY NASTY!)
- The CSO called in the big guns, a supervisor, who made it quite clear that he was not going to apply the 6 week rule.
- If “Tom” wanted to appeal the debt decision he would have to lodge a formal appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal but if he did, then Centrelink would apply ‘STRENUOUS MEASURES’ to recovery the money!
- “Tom” caved in and agreed to the $20 per fortnight ‘repayment’ even though Centrelink had made the mistake and his debt should have been waived by the Centrelink CSOs.
ISSUES ARISING FROM THIS INCIDENT.
- The 6 Week Rule places an obligation upon Centrelink to prove that a debt is owed – this means that the law requires that Centrelink must prove that the error was not their fault, i.e. ‘PROVE THE DEBT’.
- By simply claiming that overpayments had been made and demanding repayment, Centrelink was violating the 6 Week Rule and attempted to commit an act of FRAUD.
- When the Centrelink supervisor refused to comply with the 6 Week Rule, he also involved himself in this fraudulent activity.
- In addition the ‘strenuous measures’ comment probably represents INTIMIDATION for the purpose COERCING “Tom” into agreeing to make the repayments.
- Such intimidation represents MALFEASANCE, i.e. the deliberate misuse of lawful authority.
- The original letter of demand probably represents NONFEASANCE, i.e. failing to take action when required.
The ‘maths’ of this gutless scam is very simple: NONFEASANCE + MALFEASANCE + INTIMIDATION + COERSION = FRAUD. $3 Billion in fraud if Channel 7’s Today Tonight program is to be believed.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS STAND OVER MERCHANT CSO INTIMIDATION IF THE MISTAKE WAS MADE BY CENTRELINK.
- Anyone who gets a letter of demand should make 2 photocopies ASAP then file the letter in a safe place.
- Print out two copies of the 6 Week Rule to take to Centrelink – one for yourself and one for Centrelink.
- Take the two copies to Centrelink and give one to the CSO along with a copy of the 6 Week Rule.
- Point out that the Centrelink letter is evidence of fraud because Centrelink has failed to prove the debt, i.e. prove that the mistake was made by you and not by Centrelink.
- Point out that Centrelink has to prove that you were overpaid because of inaccurate information provided by you and Centrelink has not provided that proof – simply being overpaid is not proof of any debt being owed thanks to the 6 Week Rule.
- If the CSO does not agree to waive the debt and calls in a supervisor who tries to put the hard word on you, point out that their failure to comply with the 6 Week Rule also constitutes fraud and you will file fraud complaints with the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Centrelink and the police if they are unwilling to obey the law and apply the 6 Week Rule.
- You may wish to point out that and investigation of their failure to apply the 6 Week Rule would also involve a review of all prior cases where they had filed to review demands for debt and the 6 Week Rule.
- NOTE: It is wise always keep a record of any income info provide to Centrelink. Either type up two copies of this information and/or photocopy pay slips and have the Centrelink CSO stamp your copy of this information. This gives you hard evidence of what info’ you provide to Centrelink.
- Never throw this away as some people have been pinged for years of over-payments and Centrelink CSO find it easier to work this scam if you have no documentary evidence of the info’ that you provided. Even if you have no documentation, the legal onus is still on Centrelink to Prove the Debt. It is not up to you to prove that you provided the correct information and that Centrelink made the mistake.
THE BEST DEFENCE IS A GOOD OFFENCE.
Share this email with as many people as possible and even have them use the ‘FORWARD’ button on their email program to sent this email to the 12 senators who represent the state in which they live. One or two emails will simply be ignored but if enough welfare recipients forward this email with an “Explain please”, then the Gillard Government will have to drop this reprehensible scam.
The bottom line is that if Centrelink fails to comply with the 6 Week Rule, you really can file fraud complaints with a number of agencies, including making a complaint of Centrelink’s own fraud reporting hotline! Centrelink does investigate its own staff; however, the most likely outcome is that the staff member will be “counselled” as Centrelink would expose itself to outside investigations if a prosecution revealed that its staff were involved in ripping off welfare recipients by deliberately ignoring the 6 Week Rule.
Ron Medlicott (Christian advocate for welfare justice .)
THE 6 WEEK RULE THAT ALL Centrelink CSO’s MUST COMPLY WITH.
Paragraph 1237A:of the Act – Waiver of debt arising from error
(1) Subject to subsection (1A), the Secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of a debt that is attributable solely to an administrative error made by the Commonwealth if the debtor received in good faith the payment or payments that gave rise to that proportion of the debt.
Note: Subsection (1) does not allow waiver of a part of a debt that was caused partly by administrative error and partly by one or more other factors (such as error by the debtor).
(1A) Subsection (1) only applies if:
(a) the debt is not raised within a period of 6 weeks from the first payment that caused the debt; or
(b) if the debt arose because a person has complied with a notification obligation, the debt is not raised within a period of 6 weeks from the end of the notification period;
whichever is the later.
Underestimating value of property
(a) a debt arose because the debtor or the debtor’s partner underestimated the value of particular property of the debtor or partner; and
(b) the estimate was made in good faith; and
(c) the value of the property was not able to be easily determined when the estimate was made;
the Secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of the debt attributable to the underestimate.
Proportion of a debt
(3) For the purposes of this section, a proportion of a debt may be 100% of the debt.