HMRC is to trial using voice biometrics as a means of confirming the identity of individual callers to its helplines. Unlike the previous trial, which was stopped in 2019 following a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the service will be offered by HMRC telephone advisers rather than being fully automated.

Voice Biometrics (VB) is a system with the functionality to verify the identity of individual taxpayers phoning HMRC. It does this by analysing their voice characteristics and comparing them with stored voice prints. HMRC will trial the service on the self assessment helpline from Wednesday 25 October 2023. 

HMRC first launched VB in 2017. However, in 2019 it was forced to remove around 5m voice records following a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The system is currently in use for about 1.5m taxpayers who previously enrolled with live voice prints, but has not been offered to new callers until this trial. 

Enrolment was previously offered during the automated section of HMRC’s call handling system. To address concerns, VB enrolment will now be led by HMRC advisers. VB enrolment will be offered once the taxpayer’s phone query has been addressed and will remain optional. 

HMRC anticipates that this technology will improve security, reduce the frustration caused by taxpayers needing to answer security questions, reduce the rate of authentication failure and reduce average call handling times. 

HMRC has published a privacy notice.

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