Can Centrelink access your bank account?
Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.
This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.
For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.
At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.
In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.
However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.
A debt collector can garnish your bank account, but only with a court order. This drastic action is usually taken only if you’ve ignored several notices asking you to pay the debt.
If this happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it other than immediately pay back your what you owe in full or make arrangements to pay it off in installments.
Once a garnishee order is issued, your bank will put a freeze on your account as it processes the order. This usually takes two to three days and you won’t be able to access any of your money during this time.
If you have Centrelink payments, they may be protected, depending on what the court order says.
There are some instances when the government can take money from your bank account. This generally occurs in situations where you have an outstanding government debt.
Before it can take money from your bank account, the government authority owed money would first need to issue a garnishee notice.
A garnishee notice is issued by the government agency (such as Centrelink or the ATO) to a third party that holds money for you or owes you money.
To take money from your bank account, your bank would be issued with the garnishee notice requiring it to pay ‘your money’ to the requesting agency to satisfy the debt.
If your bank offers online services, you should be able to find your bank account number online by logging into your account on your bank’s website and checking your details there.
Keep in mind that each type of account you have with a bank comes with a unique account number. This means if you have a bank account as well as a savings account, for example, your bank account number and your savings account number will be different.
If you don’t have access to your bank account online or can’t login, you should be able to find your account number on a mailed bank statement, if you have one.
Alternatively, you can call your bank’s customer service number or visit a branch to retrieve your account number.
Many people find themselves struggling to cope with debt at one time or another. In these cases, a debt collector could contact you to demand payment for a debt, to explain the consequences of you failing to pay a debt, or to organise alternative payment arrangements.
If you’re contacted by a debt collector, you may be wondering what their rights are and whether they can take money out of your bank account.
Creditors cannot access money in your bank account unless a court order (also known as a ‘garnishee order’) is made to allow creditors to recover debt by taking money from your bank account or salary.
If this happens, the creditor can take money out of your bank account unless you pay the debt in full or make an alternative payment arrangement such as paying in instalments through the court.
There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.
A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.
If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian.
To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).
You would also need to provide:
- Identification for yourself and the child
- Your tax file number (TFN) or TFN exemption
Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).