Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Hank Jorgen and Centrelink unleash the dogs…..


Forget establishing that an actual debt exists – this is 2018 and come hell or high water the Turnbull Government wants to use Centrelink to prop up its financial bottom line in time for the May 2018 budget papers.

BuzzFeed News, 20 April 2018:

Tony Johnson says he received a threatening phone call last month from a private debt collector looking to recover an overdue Centrelink debt. Turns out, they had the wrong Tony Johnson.

Johnson told BuzzFeed News the call was from someone identifying themselves as working for a company called Australian Receivables. The caller told Johnson he had a Centrelink debt that needed to be repaid immediately.

As it happened there were two Tony Johnsons living within the same postcode, and the caller had contacted the wrong one.

Private debt collection agency Australian Receivables has a $2.5 million contract with Centrelink as part of the government's controversial robo-debt recovery program.

As BuzzFeed News revealed last week, the third party debt collectors work on commission based on the amount they recover from Centrelink clients, not a flat rate. The more money the companies collect, the bigger their commission.

Tony Johnson claims he was called continuously by people purporting to represent Australian Receivables. He also says neighbours and family members were approached in a bid to track him down.

"It gets annoying after a while," he told BuzzFeed News.

Johnson says he contacted Australian Receivables to find out how they got his phone number, and was told it was via a company called Detective Desk.

Detective Desk is registered in the United States but operates from the Philippines. The company claims to own information about millions of Australians.

Detective Desk allows debt collection agencies to trawl data files to track and chase outstanding debts from Centrelink clients.

The Detective Desk website says it collects, holds, uses and discloses information about Australians including full names; dates of birth; driving licence numbers; gender; current and previous addresses; court judgements; employment histories; phone numbers; and any other information it says is publicly available.

The company sources and collects data from a number of third parties including search engines, social media networks, electoral rolls, insurers, law courts and direct marketing companies.

There's no guarantee the information supplied is correct, and that's how Johnson believes he became the victim of mistaken identity.

BACKGROUND

The Canberra Times, 9 June 2017:

Centrelink's controversial robo-debt program has been blamed for a huge surge in legal challenges by people facing the welfare agency's demands for money.

Centrelink debt cases at the federal appeals tribunal have soared by more than 50 per cent since mid-2016 and The Greens have laid the blame for the surge, which might take years to work its way through the system, squarely at the feet of robo-debt.

For more examples go to  
https://twitter.com/not_my_debt 
or 
https://www.notmydebt.com.au/stories/notmydebt-stories

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