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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Customer contact and data security: telephone contact: sensitive call handling: what is a sensitive case where we may need to speak to a third party?

Due to the nature of the work you do in Debt Management you will sometimes find yourself speaking to customers / third parties where, due to the circumstances, you need to take a sensitive approach. This can be due to a death, to illness, to disability or to mental health and so on.

HMRC is committed to providing a service to all customers.

It is important that:

  • we offer our customers a choice in how they do business with us
  • all customers feel comfortable about discussing their individual needs
  • we provide help for them in the way that suits them best.

We need to adopt the correct approach using our PDRS training and treat every customer with empathy and tact.

In all circumstances we should always complete verification, see DMBM512800.

Remember once you have confirmed you are speaking to the correct person; please follow the head of duty guidance, depending on the customer’s case, for your office and your role.

Third parties

Some customers may prefer to handle their dealings in these circumstances with the department through an agent, representative or third party (including a voluntary organisation), and our normal guidance regarding authority and security should still be followed - see DMBM511600.

Where a customer is unable to directly deal with their own affairs they may decide to provide a third party with authority to act on their behalf. A power of attorney is a legal document whereby a person (the ‘donor’) gives another person (the ‘attorney’ or ‘donee’) this authority - see IDG30430 Disclosure with power of attorney.

‘Just Ask’ e-learning

To help support our business to deal with customers with communications issues HMRC has developed the ‘Just Ask’ e-learning package. The aim of the e-learning package is to improve:

  • behaviours and skills to ensure our customers receive a better level of service to make them feel more comfortable
  • listening skills so any problems are identified and addressed
  • awareness of people with communications issues
  • awareness of our legal obligations under the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Equality Act 2010
  • confidence in dealing with disabled customers in the right way
  • ways in which to focus on the needs of the individual rather than their disability
  • effective communication skills, particularly by telephone.

Find out more by going to Online Learning and searching the prospectus for ‘Just Ask’ under prospectus code 012061.

If you are a line manager, a separate manager’s guide has also been developed; the prospectus code for this package is 0013008.

For further information on the Equality Act 2010, see DMBM513165.