Can Centrelink check your bank records?

Jenny claims Centrelink has been checking her bank statements to cancel her Disability Support Pension (DSP).

Q. Jenny
I am on the DSP and had an illness overseas and had to stay more than 28 days. Centrelink has rejected an extension of my 28-day portability and rejected all medical evidence from the UK NHS.

Now the Centrelink lawyer emailed me to say that she got access to my bank statements and found one transaction in a pub. (I had given my card to my brother to do shopping and, yes, he stopped for a drink). Now Centrelink is arguing that I am lying and had the ability to travel as there is one transaction at a pub.

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I don’t go to pubs and my bank statements do not have any other transactions at pubs. Can Centrelink legally obtain my bank records and look at each and every transaction? Also, how can they prove it was me?

I feel like I am being bullied and harassed by Centrelink.

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A. There are many anecdotal stories as to whether Centrelink can and does check bank accounts and the upshot is that Centrelink does not have the power to spot check [an] individual’s bank accounts.

We spoke to Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen and he confirmed that this was the case.

“Services Australia does not have access to customers’ bank accounts in real time,” Mr Jongen explained.

Read more: Is it possible to get two pensions?

Centrelink does have the ability to use data-matching with other government agencies to weed out cases of possible welfare fraud.

For example, if you were to provide Centrelink with one set of figures and information, but the ATO with something different, this would be flagged by data-matching software.

Centrelink has the power at this point to request details of your accounts from your bank. This information will be sent in an encrypted form to specialised staff, who will review them.

Have you ever had Centrelink request details of your account from your bank? What reason did they give for this request? Did it affect your payment?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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