Can Centrelink Check Bank accounts?

Checking bank accountsIts understandable why students may be concerned about whether Centrelink can check their bank accounts. Before I answer this question I just want to state that anyone who is asking this question should take a look and decide if they are doing the right thing, are you being completely honest about their financial situation with Centrelink? Anyone who is asking this question should take a look and decide if they are doing the right thing, are you being completely honest about your financial situation with Centrelink?

Let’s be honest if you’re asking whether Centrelink can access your bank accounts then there is a high probability that you have a reason why you don’t want them too. Its more than likely that that reason could be considered Welfare Fraud, which depending on the severity could result in massive fines and potentially time in prison in very serious cases.

That aside, I am going to tackle this topic and shed some light on what access Centrelink has to recipients of Welfare benefits.

What Centrelink can’t do?

Under the Privacy Act, in Australia everybody is entitled to have the discretion who may view their personal information. This includes peoples bank accounts. Consequently a Centrelink staff member does not have the right to drop down at your bank and ask to see a copy of your statements.

What Centrelink can do?

Although Centrelink can’t browse around your bank statements without your knowledge, they can however gain access to your bank statements in other ways, with your knowledge and consent. I am aware of people that have had their bank statements requested and had to provide these in order to continue receiving payments.

Should I be worried about what is on my bank statement?

As the old saying goes “If you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about” and this certainly rings true for what is on your bank statement. Who cares how or what you spend your money on? Centrelink doesn’t. However they do care how much money you are receiving in your account as they will want to match this against how much income you have declared with them.

What if I have not declared all my income?

If the amount of income you have earned does not match the amount of income you have declared then there is a very good chance you have been overpaid from Centrelink. If your have been overpaid from Centrelink then it must be paid back since you where not entitled to receive the money. It’s best to declare all your income to Centrelink within the 14 days of earning it, this will avoid any confusion or over-payment.

Deliberately not Declaring Income?

Centrelink provides millions each year in Tax Payer’s money for the purpose of helping people who are genuinely in need. Students who try to cheat Centrelink frequently find themselves slapped with massive fines and having to pay back the money they should not have received.

Many students who have tried to be too clever and cheat the Centrelink welfare system have woken up one day to find a letter in the post informing them they need to pay back huge sums sometimes up-to or over $20,000! In serious cases people have been imprisoned for Welfare Fraud.

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About the Author: Andrew