Could the robodebt debacle get any worse?
The ongoing senate inquiry in to Centrelink robodebt has found that the gov is using taxpayers money to pay commissions to the debt collectors as a percentage of money they recover. Incredibly though, despite it being public money, they don't want to tell how much of a percentage that is.
It's no wonder the debt collectors are motivated to recover debt, even though many times the debt doesn't even exist after being made up by robodebt.
The Senate committee heard evidence of external debt collectors being aggressive and intimidating towards clients since the new debt recovery program started in July last year.
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) told the committee that private debt collectors had threatened to seize clients’ assets or take them to court if they refused to repay their debt immediately.
More than 6,600 people had received a knock on the door from a debt collector without first receiving a debt letter from Centrelink.
“In the lead up to this program being unleashed there was a perception created that if you do not comply, you may go to jail,” ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.
Goldie said the number of people who had been intimidated into repaying debts they did not really owe was unknown thanks to the creation of a “climate of fear”.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert questioned why the government was paying debt collectors a commission.
“Do they think it will result in more money being raked back?” she asked BuzzFeed News. “This might go a long way to explain the accounts we’ve heard of overzealous private debt collectors in pursuing potentially incorrect debts.”
Siewert called on the government to release the rate of commission, and said the public deserved to know how much was being paid to private debt collectors to collect money from struggling Australians. Buzzfeed