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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Customer contact and data security: obscure responses from customers

An increasing number of debtors aim to deliberately stall recovery of debts by referring to obscure legislation, payment methods, and so on. It is difficult to produce a comprehensive list, but you should look out for the following:

  • verbose letters which are difficult to understand
  • letters accompanied by Affidavits, Notices of Fault, Notices of Default and Opportunity to Cure
  • where the debtor fails to make payment but does not explain clearly why they are not making payment
  • if the debtor sends bank giro payslip without any form of payment, stating that the payslip itself is the payment
  • debtor states they are paying by ‘negotiable instrument’ or ‘promissory note’, or there is reference to the Bills of Exchange Act 1882
  • debtor states in the letter that failure by HMRC to respond by a particular date will result in an irrevocable agreement
  • debtor states that they reject your offer of title, for example if the debtor is Mr John Smith, the debtor rejects the use of ‘Mr’ stating they should be addressed as ‘John: of the Smith family’
  • debtor writes their address as being a ‘c/o’ address and qualifies the address as being ‘Non domestic without the United Kingdom’ with the postcode frequently written within square brackets, such as [BD98 8AA]
  • debtor asks for confirmation that none of their previous payments have been spent in connection with the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq
  • there is a strong similarity to specimen letters or wording taken from websites such as:

    • or
    • .

Where the correspondence clearly meets the above criteria, you should immediately refer all the correspondence for advice(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) .

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Experience has shown that it would be unusual for a debtor to raise obscure issues such as described above for the first time in a face to face situation; however Field Force and other DMB staff undertaking outdoor work should be alert to the potential situation.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

On no account should debtors be given details of any of the internal contact points.