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 commercial organisations
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 Harrow collect your data
We'll get your permission by asking you to either:
- sign a paper consent form
- tick a box online
- give agreement over the phone - if you call our local telephone advice line
Before we ask for your permission, we'll always explain how we use your information.
What Citizens Advice Harrow 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
- 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
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.
How Citizens Advice Harrow 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 to help solve your problem or to monitor the quality of our services.
Organisations we share your data with must store and use your data in line with data protection law.
Sharing information to solve your problem
If you ask us to act on your behalf we might need to share some of your information with other organisations - we'll always tell you when we do this. For example if we contact your creditors about your debts, we might need to share your name, address and financial details with them.
If we refer you to another organisation for more advice, we might share information about your problem with them so they can help you more quickly.
For example The Local Authority, Department of Work and Pension, housing associations, Harrow Law Centre, Jobcentre Plus, solicitors, other voluntary section organisations, your GP, NHS staff/personnel, your creditors, banks, utility providers, letting agents, ombudsman, employers, retailers, businesses.
How Citizens Advice Harrow store your information
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone, by email or webchat, our adviser will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your problem into our secure case management systems as well as in secure filing cabinets within the office.
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 consumer service, we keep your information for 6 years and then anonymise it. This means that you can no longer be identified from it.
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.
In addition Citizens Advice Harrow is using Microsoft Office 365 cloud based system and your personal data may be stored there while your case is active. Our policy is to minimise all data collected and we aim to transfer all personal information to Casebook during the course of your case. You can find out more about how we safeguard individual privacy with cloud services from Microsoft on the their website.
If you contact us for webchat or email advice
In most cases, as well as logging your email advice request form and webchat transcripts in our case management systems, copies are also stored in an online system run by our trusted partner Agilisys. It's stored for 3 months before being deleted.
Agilisys keep anonymised statistics on webchat data in an archive so they can track webchat usage and performance. This data doesn't contain your personal information.
Agilisys store their data securely within the European Economic Area (EEA) in line with data protection law.
Requests for advice from the consumer service via the online webform are stored on a secure mail system run by Datamotion for 30 days.
Emails between you and your adviser are 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 use the Extra Help Unit, emails between you and your adviser are held on the Servicemail database and deleted 3 years of your case closes.
If you get advice over the phone
If you call us, the conversation is not recorded but relevant notes are taken by the adviser. You can let the adviser know if you disagree.
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 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.
How Citizens Advice Harrow share your information
We make referrals to third parties either via post, encrypted email or telephone.
Contact Citizens Advice Harrow about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our office.
Telephone: 020 8427 9477, open:
Mondays and Thursdays 12.30 to 7.00pm
Tuesdays and Fridays 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30 to 4.00pm
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.