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Citizens Advice privacy policy

This privacy policy is for any member of the public who has dealings with Citizens Advice, which results in Citizens Advice holding personal information about you.

It sets out the standards you can expect when we ask for or hold your personal information and explains how we’ll use it.

First and foremost your information will be used to help with your issue(s) and to help us keep information up to date.

Our commitment

Citizens Advice will abide by the law including the Data Protection Act 1998, when handling and securely storing clients personal information.

When we ask you for personal information, we promise to:

  • make sure you know why we need it

  • ask only for what we need

  • treat it as being confidential

  • only access your information with a clear reason to do so

  • not collect or share too much or irrelevant information

  • protect it and make sure nobody has access to it who should not

  • not sell personal information about clients or correspondents to commercial organisations

  • ensure that if your information is shared with another organisation, this is only done with your consent or when required by law. We'll use the ICO Data Sharing Code of Practice PDF when we share information to ensure the other organisation treats your information with the same level of care as us.

  • provide training to Citizens Advice staff who handle personal information and respond appropriately if personal information is not used or protected properly

  • provide you with a publicly available complaints procedure If you're unhappy with how we hold your information. You can also contact the local Citizens Advice that you are connected with, who can post or email a copy of the complaints leaflet to you

In return, we ask you to give us accurate information; and tell us as soon as possible if anything changes, which may affect the information we hold.

Giving your consent

At Citizens Advice we must ask for your consent to record, use, or share personal information.

What you’re agreeing to

If you give consent when asked, you are agreeing that the Citizens Advice service may:

1. Record and use your personal information in order to help with your issue(s) and case.

2. Share your personal information with another organisation or another part of Citizens Advice so they can contact you for feedback about your experience of using a local Citizens Advice to improve our service, or for research purposes about particular issues.

Sometimes we need a trusted research organisation to help us do that. We may also share some high level information about your visit to make sure we are hearing from different groups. We only share what is absolutely necessary.

If when contacted and you do not wish to participate, you can specify that you do not wish to be contacted again. Whichever option you choose will not alter the service and advice you receive.

3. Refer you to other advice providers and share your personal information with those advice providers so that they have initial information to help you further with your issue(s). Everything you told us will be treated confidentially by them.

Sometimes we suggest that we refer you to another organisation for advice because they will be better able to help you with all or part of your issue(s). We can help get you an appointment and give the organisation the information you’ve already provided so you don’t have to repeat yourself.

How you give your consent

Local Citizens Advice staff will ask you to give your consent to the Citizens Advice service recording personal information about you in writing when you visit a local office.

Adviceline assessors will give you the opportunity to verbally give your consent to the Citizens Advice service recording personal information about you.

Our web chat and email system will ask you to give your consent to the Citizens Advice recording personal information about you, by ticking the consent box before the web chat can proceed.

Giving consent without using your real name

You can give consent without using your real name, but the Citizens Advice service will not be able to advise you without generating an unnamed record of your case needed for quality assurance purposes. Other personal information may be recorded if you choose to tell it to us. Choosing this will not affect in any way the level of service or advice you receive, and we’ll never try and identify you as an unnamed client.

How to withdraw your consent

If you have changed your mind about the consent you’ve given, please let us know by contacting the local Citizens Advice that you are connected with by using our complaints procedure.

How we’ll use your information

First and foremost your information will be used to help with your case. We also use unnamed information (with no personal details) to help us understand how different problems are affecting society and to take action to tackle these problems.

Where you have given us permission and the relevant contact details, the Citizens Advice service, or in some instances a trusted research partner, may contact you to ask you for feedback on the service you received and your overall experience of Citizens Advice.

The kind of information we record and store

We record information about you to help with your case and only ask for it when there is a good reason to do so. It is up to you to decide what you share with us. Some information is personal, it could be used to identify you. This includes your name, date of birth, address, or phone number. Some may be sensitive information related to any of the following: racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexuality or sex life, offences and/or convictions.

How we’ll store your information

The record of your case will be stored securely in a secure case management system accessed by the Citizens Advice service. Paper copies of your information may also be stored securely and accessed by staff and volunteers of the Citizens Advice service.

How we might share your personal information

We won’t share information without your permission, unless required to do so by law.

We may ask another organisation or another part of the Citizens Advice service to contact you to find out if you were satisfied with the service you received and more about your experience of Citizens Advice. To do this we need to share contact details.

Sometimes we also share high level information about your case, such as how you contacted Citizens Advice, what the topic of your visit was, what level of support you received, and what country you are in. The only reason for this is to make sure we hear from different groups of clients. We only share what is absolutely necessary.

If you’ve given us permission to share details with the Money Advice Service (MAS) for satisfaction monitoring, they, or an agency appointed by them, may contact you by phone, email or letter to find out if you were satisfied with the service you received.

If you’ve given us permission to share your details and case file with the Money Advice Service (MAS) for quality monitoring, your problem and the advice you received may be reviewed and feedback given to your adviser

How to find out which local Citizens Advice is dealing with your debt enquiry, if you made it using our digital services

When providing debt advice, each local Citizens Advice is independently authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If you enter into a web chat about debt issues, or request debt advice via email through our online enquiry form, you’ll be informed of the FCA firm reference number (FRN) of the local Citizens Advice dealing with your enquiry. You can use the FRN number provided to find out which local Citizens Advice is dealing with your enquiry via the FCA's FRN search. You can then search for your local Citizens Advice.

Web chat and email security

Citizens Advice makes every effort to ensure the security and integrity of web chat and email on our systems. Unfortunately, no data transmission over the internet can be guaranteed to be 100 percent secure. As a result, while we strive to protect your personal information after we’ve received it, Citizens Advice can’t guarantee the security of information when it is being transmitted.

Further information about how we guard your privacy on our website and our use of cookies.

Why we record phone calls

Phone calls will be recorded for training and quality purposes. These recordings are stored for 42 days then automatically deleted from the system.

The role of  a data controller

A data controller is someone who is responsible for your data and who must make sure that your data is processed in accordance with the law. For example, they are responsible for making sure that the information held about you is accurate and is kept secure.

For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998, Citizens Advice are data controllers in common with the rest of the service for the data held in our electronic systems.

As data controllers in common, the members of the Citizens Advice service are jointly responsible for your data.

We are also committed to:

  • providing the public with up to date, relevant information on the Citizens Advice website to help solve their problems

  • writing research and publish evidence reports based on our social policy work

  • providing summaries of our completed work on our website together with more performance data in our annual reports

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about how we’ll use the information you tell us please contact us at feedback@citizensadvice.org.uk. (Please note we do not provide advice from this email address, but you can get advice on this website.)