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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Communications: Incoming telephone calls: procedure where it is not possible to verify a caller’s identity from the information held on file

In some cases you will not be able to verify the caller’s details against the details on the file. An example would be where an executor phones about an estate that is being administered by a solicitor. In these cases we do not have the personal representative’s (IHTM05012) telephone number on file. Where the personal representative (pr) needs more information than a simple confirmation that the case is being dealt with you must

  • tell the pr you have to independently verify their telephone number before you can discuss the estate, because of taxpayer confidentiality
  • ask the pr whether or not they are listed in the telephone directory
  • if the pr is listed in the directory, tell them you will have to ring them back.
  • verify the number given against the BT directory
  • once you have verified the number, ring the pr back to discuss the case, but remember only to give out information that they are entitled to under the general rule (IHTM02031) on disclosure

Where a pr tells you they are not listed in the BT directory you should:

  • tell them that you cannot discuss the estate in detail over the telephone because of taxpayer confidentiality
  • ask them what their questions are regarding the estate and tell them you will write to them with full replies.
  • write to the caller as soon as possible after the telephone conversation. Answer all the questions, but only provide such information that you are able to under the general rule on disclosure

If a caller cannot be positively identified or the call for any reason does not seem to be genuine you should immediately report the matter to your Manager. If your Manager thinks it is appropriate they may pass the details on to Compliance.