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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Customer contact and data security: contact with third parties: getting authority: speaking to third parties when customer present

Occasionally when taking telephone calls or making outdoor visits the customer will ask you to deal with another person on their behalf, for example a spouse, partner, friend or relative that they feel they trust to understand and discuss their tax affairs for them.

When you are asked by the customer to speak to a third party who is present, you should explain you can do this and accept their verbal authority provided that they satisfy our verification checks first.

Confirming verbal authority when customer present

You should:

  • ask the customer the appropriate verification checks (DMBM512800)
  • ask for the name of the third party and the relationship to them (make a note of this info)
  • confirm with the customer that they are willing to give verbal authority for us to discuss their tax affairs with their chosen third party
  • check the Head of Duty for any restrictions on what we can and can’t discuss.

Note: Customers who want us to deal with third parties in this way will need to provide verbal consent each time they call with a third party present.

You are allowed to deal with friends and family members (third parties) of our customers no matter how many times they call whilst the customer is present.

If the customer wants the third party to act on their behalf on a regular basis without providing advance verbal consent, advise them that they must send a signed written letter to HMRC (see DMBM512210).

Security process and contact history notes

If you have any concerns about the caller’s response to the questions or you feel the customer is being coerced by the third party, escalate the call to your team leader.

You should always be vigilant against bogus callers and follow the bogus caller escalation route if necessary, see DMBM510280.

To enable our Compliance colleagues to monitor usage of the third party service and combat fraud, the contact history note is required in a particular format to enable them to search for this type of call. It must show ‘3rd party verbal consent’ - not the word ‘third’.

Exceptions

There are a few situations that you may come across where for one reason or another you are unable to complete verification checks with the customer themselves, this is only accepted in certain circumstances - see DMBM511805 on special circumstances and DMBM510430 on sensitive cases.