Beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what this means

HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Customer contact and data security: compulsory verification checks: verification checks based on customer type: verification checks with authorised third parties - verbal and written

Some customers prefer to ask a third party, such as an accountant, agent or family member, to deal with their tax affairs for them by telephone. In order to fully discuss the tax affairs with the third party without the customer present the customer must have given authority for us to do so.

The authority must be either:

  • in writing (see DMBM512210)
  • verbal for a one-off conversation

and noted on the customer’s record. It should also note if there are any restrictions set by the customer on what we can discuss with the third party.

Third parties with authority on record - phone calls

When speaking to a third party telephoning on behalf of a customer who is not present at the time of the call you must firstly check that we have the written signed authority on record from the customer allowing us to disclose information to the third party.

In order to access the customer’s record you should

  • ask the third party for the customer’s reference number and use this to access the record.
  • then check the notes in order to establish if the authority is on the record. Once you’ve established that we do hold authority for the third party
  • continue to ask the relevant verification checks for third party with authority on record (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 some occasions, the customer may wish to leave advance verbal consent for a third party to act in their absence. In such instances, the customer should be advised that the authority is only valid for a ‘one-off’ future call from the third party. Written consent should be requested if the customer wishes the third party to act in their absence on more than one future occasion.

Advance verbal consent may be accepted for a period of up to four months from the original telephone call and must be noted on the record. In these situations you should follow the verification checks for third party with consent.

Third parties when on outdoor work

When on outdoor calls you are permitted to speak to a third party after firstly getting verbal authority from the customer. Although we would never do a Field Force or Distraint visit a nominated third party to collect an individuals debt you may be asked to speak to a third party who is present when out on call after seeing the customer first.

In these situations you should:

  • verify that you are speaking to the correct customer first (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) verification checks helpcard for outdoor work (PDF 83kb)
  • make sure that they give you verbal consent to discuss their tax affairs with the third party,
  • ask for the third parties name and relationship to the customer for our records (you should then add this to the call report).
  • check with the customer if there are any restrictions on what you can discuss with the third party
  • advise the customer that if they wish for us to deal with the third party in the future they should write to HMRC giving authority with a signed letter; for more information, see DMBM511640.

Although you have prior consent from the customer to speak to the third party you should still be cautious not to disclose anything that is not asked nor that your conversation is overheard by any others.

Third parties with no authority on record

When speaking to a third person over the telephone and (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)
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) we hold no authority for them.

You should advise that you are unable to discuss the customer’s tax affairs with them because we hold no authority for them.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) DMBM513020(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Speaking to third parties when customer present

Occasionally a customer will call and ask you to speak to another person who is with them at the time of the call. It is okay to do this for a one-off conversation provided you:

  • verify the customer (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) verification checks helpcard
  • ask for the customer’s name and their relationship
  • check if there are any restrictions on what you can discuss and disclose.

You should advise the customer that this verbal consent is for a one-off call and that if they wish to make it a permanent arrangement they will need to send to us a signed letter of authority, see DMBM511640.

Staff working in the NRU should see DMBM512906.