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Citizens Advice privacy policy

This privacy policy sets out the standards you can expect when we ask for or record your personal information, and explains how we’ll use it.

Our commitment

When we handle and store our clients’ personal information we follow the law, including the Data Protection Act 1998,

When we ask you for personal information we promise to:

  • explain why we need it
  • only ask for what we need
  • treat it as confidential

When we record and use your personal information we promise to:

  • only access it when we have a valid reason to do so
  • only share what is necessary and relevant
  • protect it and make sure nobody has access to it who shouldn’t
  • not sell it to commercial organisations

When we share your personal information with another organisation we promise to:

  • ensure that this is only done with your consent, or if we’re required to do so by law

All staff who handle personal information are given training and we take it very seriously if someone fails to use or protect it properly.

If you're unhappy with how we record and use your information you should follow our complaints procedure. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice to ask for a copy of our complaints leaflet.

Please let us know  as soon as possible if anything relating to your contact details or issue changes, which may affect the information we hold.

Giving your consent

We must ask for your consent to record, use, or share personal information.

What you’re agreeing to

If you give us your consent you are saying that we can:

1 - Record and use your personal information 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. They’ll ask you about your experience of using a local Citizens Advice, which will help us improve our service or feed into our research.

We might also share information about your visit with a trusted research organisation to make sure we’re hearing from different groups of people. We only share what is absolutely necessary.

If you’re contacted and you don’t want to be involved, you can say that you don’t want to be contacted again.

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. Everything you told us will be treated confidentially by them.

Sometimes we’ll refer you to another organisation for specialist advice. We can help get you an appointment and we’ll pass on the information you’ve already provided so you don’t need to do it again.

How you give your consent

How you’re asked for and give your consent depends on which of our services you’re using:

  • 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 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 - you can do this by ticking the consent box before the web chat can proceed

How to withdraw your consent

If you’ve changed your mind about consent you’ve already given, contact the local Citizens Advice that you’ve been in touch with or use 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’ve given us permission and your contact details, we might get in touch to ask for feedback on the service you received and your overall experience of Citizens Advice. In some cases we might ask a trusted research partner to contact you on our behalf.

The kind of information we record and use

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 your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexuality or sex life, offences or convictions.

How we’ll store your information

We’ll store the record of your case in a secure case management system, which is only accessed by us. Paper copies of your information may also be stored securely and accessed by staff and volunteers of the Citizens Advice service.

Giving consent without using your real name

You can consent without using your real name, but we can’t advise you unless we create an unnamed record of your case, which we need for quality assurance purposes. Other personal information might be recorded if you choose to give it to us. Choosing not to use your real name will not affect the level of service or advice you receive, and we’ll never try and identify you if you’re unnamed client.

How we might share your personal information

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

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

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

If you’ve given us permission to share your details with the Money Advice Service (MAS) for satisfaction monitoring, they, or an agency appointed by them, might contact you by phone, email or letter.

If you’ve given us permission to share your details and case file with the MAS for quality monitoring, your issue 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

Each local Citizens Advice is independently authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for providing debt advice.

If you have a web chat about debt issues, or you request debt advice using our online form, you’ll be given a firm reference number (FRN). You can search the Financial Services Register for the FRN and find out which local Citizens Advice is dealing with your enquiry. You can then search for your local Citizens Advice.

Web chat and email security

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

Read more about how we guard your privacy on our website and our use of cookies.

Why we record phone calls

Phone calls are recorded for training and quality purposes. The recordings are stored for 42 days then automatically deleted.

The role of a data controller

A data controller is responsible for your data and 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 stored securely.

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 case systems. This means the members of the Citizens Advice service are jointly responsible for your data.

We also:

  • provide the public with up to date, relevant information on the Citizens Advice website to help solve their problems
  • write research and publish evidence reports based on our social policy work
  • provide summaries of our completed work on our website and additional performance data in our annual reports

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about how we use your information, contact us at feedback@citizensadvice.org.uk (we can't give advice from this email address, but you can search for advice on this website).