Customer contact and data security: contact with third parties: voluntary sector organisations: calls from voluntary sector organisations
The role of the Voluntary Sector Taxes Resolution Service (VSTRS)
The Voluntary Sector Taxes Resolution Service (VSTRS) in Portsmouth were officially formed from 1 February 2013 as part of HMRC’s Future Service Delivery (FSD) programme.
There are four Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) organisations with whom HMRC has a trusted relationship, and who have been given permission to use this service. They are:
- Tax Aid
- Tax Help for Older People (TOP)
- Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG)
- The Citizens Advice Bureaux.
These four organisations are allowed through the service to retain signed (or phone call recorded oral) authorisation by the customer. This allows HMRC to disclose information to them as a nominated third party for the purpose of a specific matter in the customer’s tax affairs. These retained authorities are then periodically audited by HMRC for assurance purposes.
The guidance contained here and in IDG30445 provides the authority for staff to disclose information without a 64-8 in place where the verified call comes directly, and in real-time, from VSTRS. This is so VSTRS can help resolve the tax issues of their more vulnerable clients.
The VSTRS team will validate a caller from the four VCS organisations by means of pre-shared PINs and a security question process, and disclose information to them over the phone.
If they need to hand the call off to another specialist area within DMB depending on the nature of the query or the stage the debt of the customer is at, you should, if you receive such a call:
- check the SEES ID code of the VSTRS team member
- take the call over
- then provide information as if there were a 64-8 on the record.
All VSTRS team members have access to the Integrated Debt Management System (IDMS) and the National Direct Debit System (NDDS) and so are able to deal with the majority of queries without the need to transfer the case. As a result, real time hands-offs have been, and should continue to be minimal.
VSTRS team members, if they do need to hand off a call in real-time to you, will:
- give you the customer’s details
inform you of:
- the name of the voluntary organisation
- the representative (and their contact details if the voluntary organisation has consent to act for the customer)
- explain the issue to you
- indicate any arrangements for a call back that have been suggested; for example, whether the case is urgent or what the turnaround time ought to be.
You should note the authority to disclose only lasts for the period in real-time of the handed-off call from VSTRS to your business area. Providing the relevant information during the call so long as the authority exists will not constitute a security breach. However, any subsequent contact without having first been verified by the VSTRS team will be subject to the usual authority requirements.
The PIN validation process is particular to the VSTRS team and the PIN will not be shared with any other member of HMRC.