At Citizens Advice we collect and use your personal information to help solve your problems, improve our services and tackle wider issues in society that affect people’s lives.
We only ask for the information we need. We always let you decide what you’re comfortable telling us, explain why we need it and treat it as confidential.
When we record and use your personal information we:
- only access it when we have a good reason
- only share what is necessary and relevant
- don’t sell it to anyone
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.
Coronavirus: Test and Trace if you get advice in person
If you get advice in person, we'll ask for your:
- email address or telephone number
We'll keep this information in our secure case management system.
We might be asked to share your name, contact details and the date of your visit with Test and Trace or local public health organisations. This is to help track cases of coronavirus. They might contact you if they think you're at risk after your visit. For example, because someone getting advice at the same time has tested positive for coronavirus. You can find out more about Test and Trace in England on GOV.UK.
We'll never share information about the reason for your visit.
If you can't give contact details, for example if it's not safe for you to do so, we'll still be able to give you advice in person.
Unlike most situations, we won't ask for your consent before we share your contact details. If you don't want us to share this information you can tell your local office, you want to opt out.
We're doing this to help keep you and the public safe, this is a ‘legitimate interest’ of Citizens Advice.
We won't share your contact details with anyone other than Test and Trace or a local public health organisation.
If we share your information, we'll let you know and offer further support.
If you want to know more about changes to our face-to-face services or how your information will be used, please see details of your local office below.
At times we might use or share your information without your permission. If we do, we’ll always make sure there’s a legal basis for it. This could include situations where we have to use or share your information:
- to comply with the law - for example, if a court orders us to share information (this is called ‘legal obligation’)
- to protect someone’s life - for example, sharing information with a paramedic if a client was unwell at our office (this is called ‘vital interests’)
- to carry out our legitimate aims and goals as a charity - for example, to create statistics for our national research (this is called ‘legitimate interests’)
- for us to carry out a task where we’re meeting the aims of a public body in the public interest - for example, delivering a government or local authority service (this is called ‘public task’)
- to carry out a contract we have with you - for example, if you’re an employee we might need to store your bank details so we can pay you (this is called ‘contract’)
- to defend our legal rights - for example, sharing information with our legal advisors if there was a complaint that we gave the wrong advice
We handle and store your personal information in line with the law - including the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.
This page covers how we, as your local charity, handle your information locally in our offices.
How Citizens Advice Colchester collect your data
We collect your data by you completing and signing a form called Citizens Advice Colchester client permission and consent form, which was released in May 2018 and updated July 2020. We will explain how your information will be processed and under what lawful basis.
What Citizens Advice Colchester ask for
We’ll only ask you 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
- 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 consent for special category personal information:
- health conditions
- trade union membership
- sexual orientation
You can withdraw your consent at any time. Tell us what personal information you don't want us to store and we'll delete it.
How Citizens Advice Colchester 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.
Working on your behalf
When you give us authority to act on your behalf, for example to help you with a Universal Credit claim, we’ll need to share information with that third party.
When providing a service to you, we might need to disclose your data to a third party. For example, when referring to an alternative provider. Our service is confidential, you'll be able to choose whether your personal data is disclosed to another organisation. We must get your consent by completion of a consent referral form which will be made available to you.
When the form is complete, the adviser can scan and attach it to the Casebook record. There are some limited circumstances when we can share information about you without consent. Please ask to see the Citizens Advice Colchester Confidentiality policy and the Citizens Advice Colchester Safeguarding policies and procedures.
If we regularly share your data with a partner agency, we'll ask you to complete a data sharing agreement to comply with the data protection law when sharing data. Especially if data sharing will be systematic, large scale or high risk. This will be agreed with the partner agency.
How Citizens Advice Colchester store your information
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone or by email, our advisor 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 or 16 years.
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.
We may also store your information on PG Debt or our Covid response email system, depending on how you accessed our advice.
The Citizens Advice Colchester website is managed by Citizens Advice, the contents are managed by Citizens Advice Colchester.
How Citizens Advice Colchester share your information
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 will need to share your name, address and financial details with them
- refer you to another organisation for more advice, if relevant
- monitor the quality of our services
The 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 used our debt advice service before 1 January 2019, we might have shared your personal information with our funder, the Money Advice Service. We did this with your permission so they could check the quality of our advice.
From 1 January 2019, a new Single Financial Guidance Body was formed by merging the Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and The Pensions Advisory Service.
As a result, the Money Advice Service has transferred your personal information to the Single Financial Guidance Body.
These organisations must store and use your personal information in line with data protection law - they cannot pass it on or sell it without your permission.
You can check how the Money Advice Service uses your information on their website.
Sharing your information as part of a referral
It's a legal requirement to make sure you're informed about what's happening with your information. If we're referring you between different services delivered by the network or the same office, we must tell you what will be shared and why and get your agreement. The appropriate lawful basis under the GDPR and DPA 2018 for a referral within the network is likely to be legitimate interest.
When we use your information without permission
At times we might use or share your information without your permission. We'll only do this if there's a legal basis for it. This could include situations where we have to use or share your information:
- to comply with the law, called 'legal obligation' - for example, if a court orders us to share information
- to protect someone's life, called 'vital interests' - for example, sharing information with a paramedic if you're unwell at our office
- to carry out our aims and goals as an organisation, called 'legitimate interests' - for example, to create anonymous case studies and statistics for our national research
- for us to carry out a task in the public interest or for our official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law, called 'public task' - for example, the Consumer Service
- to carry out a contract we have with you, called 'contract' - for example, if you're an employee, we might need to store your bank details so we can pay you
- to defend our legal rights - for example, to resolve a complaint that we gave the wrong advice
Contact Citizens Advice Colchester about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our office.
Senior Information Risk Owner: Mrs. Joanne Blyth (CEO)
Telephone: 01206 244834
Adviceline and email advice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am to 3pm
You can contact us to:
- find out what personal information we hold about you
- correct your information if it’s wrong, out of date or incomplete
- request we delete your information
- ask us to limit what we do with your data - for example, ask us not to share it if you haven’t asked us already
- ask us to give you a copy of the data we hold in a format you can use to transfer it to another service
- ask us stop using your information
Who’s responsible for looking after your personal information
The national Citizens Advice charity and your local Citizens Advice operate a system called Casebook to keep your personal information safe. This means they’re a ‘joint data controller’ for your personal information that’s stored in the Casebook system.
Each local Citizens Advice is an independent charity, and a member of the national Citizens Advice charity. The Citizens Advice membership agreement also requires that the use of your information complies with data protection law.
You can find out more about your data rights on the Information Commissioner’s website.