‘Start paying or face the debt collector’

Catherine Herir was wrongly told she owed more than $4000, and should start paying it back to avoid debt collectors. Picture: Supplied

DEMANDS for Centrelink payments are putting Aussies under intense pressure, with the Government agency even tweeting the Lifeline suicide helpline number.

Like many Australians, Catherine Herir, from Brisbane, was sent a letter just last month telling her she owed thousands in overpaid unemployment benefits.

In FY2011 to 12, she claimed benefits after leaving her admin job for full-time study, but Centrelink’s new automated system — introduced in October to claw back money from claimants — had spread her wage across the whole year and calculated she needed to pay back $4500 she claimed while not working.

The 27-year-old told she spent a month trying to sort out the issue online, making calls to Centrelink and chasing up old employers from five years ago.

“They suggested that I start a payment plan even before my review was complete to…

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