We collect and use the details you give us so we can help you. We have a ‘legitimate interest’ to do this under data protection law. This means it lets us carry out our aims and goals as an organisation. We'll always explain how we use your information.
If you're using our Debt Advice Project and you've been referred to us from another advice charity, they'll send us your information using a referral form. They'll get your permission before sending us your information.
What information we ask for
We'll only ask for information that's relevant to your problem. Depending on what you want help with, this might include:
- your name and contact details - so we can keep in touch with you about your case
- personal information - for example about family, work, or financial circumstances, or if you're vulnerable or at risk of harm
- details about services you get that are causing you problems - like energy or post
- details of items or services you've bought and traders you've dealt with
- information like your gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation
We occasionally ask for details about someone else like a neighbour or your partner so we can deal with an enquiry. We'll only do this if we have a legitimate interest in the information, or we need it to protect someone's life.
If you don't want to give us certain information, you don't have to. For example, if you want to stay anonymous we'll only record information about your problem and make sure you're not identified.
We’ll always ask for your permission to store information about your:
trade union membership
You can withdraw your permission at any time - known legally as withdrawing consent. Tell us what personal information you don't want us to store and we'll delete it.
How we use your information
The main reason we ask for your information is to help solve your problem.
We only access your information for other reasons if we really need to - for example:
- for training and quality purposes
- to investigate complaints
- to get feedback from you about our services
- to help us improve our services
All advisers and staff accessing data have had data protection training to make sure your information is handled sensitively and securely.
Understanding people's problems
We use some information to create statistics about who we're helping and what problems are the most common. This information is always anonymised - you can't be identified.
We share these with funders, regulators, government departments and publicly on our blogs, reports, social media and press releases.
The statistics also inform our policy research, campaigns, or media work.
When we share your information with other organisations
With your permission, we might share your information with other organisations so we can:
- help solve your problem - for example, if you ask us to contact your creditors we might need to share your name, address and financial details with them
- refer you quickly to another organisation for more advice, if relevant
- monitor the quality of our services
Organisations we share your data with must store and use your data in line with data protection law.
There might be specific organisations we share your information with, depending on what service you access.
If you're the client of a different advice charity and used the Debt Advice Project
Your personal information is shared securely with us from the charity you got advice from. We then share that information with the Money Advice Service, our funder, as part of our regular reporting.
This information includes:
- your name, contact details and postcode
- your demographic information - like your age, gender and ethnicity
- your employment and housing status
- your income and debts
- what kind of advice you got and the outcome
- if you were referred to another organisation
The charity you got advice from will have their own policy on how they use, store and share your data.
If we're concerned about yours or someone else's safety
If something you've told us makes us think you or someone you know might be at serious risk of harm, we could tell the police or social services - for example if we think you might hurt yourself or someone else.
Getting feedback on our service
With your permission, we'll share your contact details with our trusted research partner so they can contact you for feedback on your experience with us. We use different research partners depending on how you access our services.
|Where you got advice||Research partner|
|a local Citizens Advice||Maru/edr|
|the Extra Help Unit (energy advice)||Accent|
|the Debt Advice Project||Recognising Excellence, Optimisa and PWC Research|
Storing your information - if you contact us online, by phone or face to face
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone, by email or chat, our adviser will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your problem into our secure case management systems. We have a ‘legitimate interest’ to do this under data protection law. This means it lets us carry out our aims and goals as an organisation.
Some of your information might also be kept within our secure email and IT systems.
We keep your information for 6 years. If your case has been subject to a serious complaint, insurance claim or other dispute we keep the data for 16 years.
If you use the Extra Help Unit, we keep your information for 3 years from when we close your case.
Our case management systems are hosted within the EEA and wherever possible, the UK.
Most of our trusted partners store their data securely within the European Economic Area (EEA) in line with data protection law.
There might be other places we store your information, depending on how you accessed our advice.
If you contact us for chat or email advice
We'll store your chat transcript or email advice request form in our case management systems - this is kept for 6 years.
In most cases, the transcript or email form's also stored in an online system run by our trusted partner LivePerson.
LivePerson also records:
the country and city you’re in
the type of device you’re using, your operating system and your browser
your IP address and the name of your internet service provider
the pages you view on our website
LivePerson will delete all the data after 13 months.
Our chat advisers can see this information when they chat with you, but it isn’t copied to your case record.
We use this data to improve the advice we give you. We also use it to research the needs of our users. This helps us make sure people in different areas and using different devices and systems can use our website and chat service.
LivePerson keep anonymised statistics on chat data in an archive so they can track chat usage and performance. This data doesn't contain your personal information.
LivePerson store their data securely within the European Economic Area (EEA) in line with data protection law.
You can ask for a copy of your chat to be securely emailed to you. The sender of the email will be firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any emails between you and your adviser are only stored within the local Citizens Advice office email system where the adviser is based. The local Citizens Advice should have their own policy for how they keep these emails secure.
If you tell us sensitive details about yourself, we’ll ask for your permission to use and store them. This includes your:
trade union membership
If you don’t give your consent, for example if the chat is cut off, we’ll securely delete this information after 3 months. We can store this information under the Data Protection Act 2018 because we use it to give you counselling, advice and support.
If you use the Extra Help Unit, emails between you and your adviser are held on the Servicemail database and deleted 3 years after we close your case.
If you get advice over the phone
If you call us, we'll record the conversation for training and monitoring purposes.
When you call, you'll hear a recorded message telling you how we use and store your information - you can let the adviser know if you disagree.
Calls are recorded by our trusted partner, KCOM. They'll be deleted after 6 months.
If you get advice by Skype or an app like WhatsApp
Your local Citizens Advice should have their own policy that covers how they store your information through these channels. Contact your local Citizens Advice and ask to see the policy - or check their website.
If your adviser refers you to another Citizens Advice Service
Some other Citizens Advice services store and share your information in different ways.
If your service isn't listed here, there's nothing extra we need to tell you.
If you've been referred to the Citizens Advice consumer service, find out more about how they use, store and share your personal information.
If you've been referred to the Citizens Advice Debt Management Service, find out more about how they use, store and share your personal information.
If you've been referred to the Citizens Advice Debt Relief Order (DRO) Team, find out more about how they use, store and share your personal information.
If you've been referred to the Citizens Advice Witness Service, find out more about how they use, store and share your personal information.
If you've been referred to Pension Wise, find out more about how they use, store and share your personal information.
Contact us about your information
You can contact us at any time and ask us:
- what information we've stored about you
- to change or update your details
- to delete your details from our records
If you know the local Citizens Advice you've been dealing with, please contact them directly about information they hold about you.
If you don't know which charity you dealt with, contact your local Citizens Advice and ask them to check your case records to find out.
If you want to make a complaint
If you're not happy with how we've handled your data, you can make a complaint.