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.