Privacy and Cookies
Citizens Advice is committed to safeguarding your privacy, while providing a high quality of service. Citizens Advice will treat your personal information as confidential and your details will not be given or sold to anyone.
We will use the information collected online to help us understand more about how our site is used by visitors, and to develop and enhance our services to you.
We are bound by the Citizens Advice Information Charter.
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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 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. You can check our main Citizens Advice policy for how we handle most of your personal information. This page covers how we, as your local charity, handle your information locally in our offices.
How Citizens Advice Exeter collect your data
We need to record information about you to help with your enquiry. We have a legitimate interest to do this.
What Citizens Advice Exeter 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
How Citizens Advice Exeter use your information
First and foremost your information will be used to provide you with advice. We also use information in a way that doesn’t directly identify you to understand how different problems are affecting society and to take action to tackle these problems. As this is used for research it is kept separate from your case record.
Where you have given us your permission and contact details, we, 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.
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.
How Citizens Advice Exeter store your information
The record of your case will be stored securely in an electronic case management system used jointly by all of the Citizens Advice service. We are all responsible for keeping it safe. As part of solving your problem, we might also make written notes, download copies of your case or send emails containing your information. We will make sure any information is stored securely and only accessed when there’s a good reason by staff and volunteers of the Citizens Advice service.
How Citizens Advice Exeter share your information
We will generally not share information without your permission, unless required to do so by law or in some very limited situations, like to protect you or someone else from serious harm. If a particular service involves sharing your information without permission, we will always let you know upfront that it isn’t confidential.
Contact Citizens Advice Exeter about your information If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our office. If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact us at Dix’s Field, Exeter EX1 1QA
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 our 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.
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 or Test and Trace in Wales on GOV.WALES.
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.
If you have the NHS Test and Trace app on your phone you can ‘check in’ at some of our local Citizens Advice offices. You can still get advice even if you don’t check in on the app. You can find out how the NHS Test and Trace app will use your information on GOV.UK.
You can download the NHS Test and Trace app from NHS.UK.
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 contact your local office.
When you use the Help to Claim service, we’ll only ask for and process personal information about you so we can support you.
We get your information:
- when you come into our office asking for support
- by talking with you over the phone or webchat
On some occasions, the Jobcentre might share some information about you with us. They’ll do this usually when they need to make a referral.
We collect and process your personal information using a lawful basis called ‘legitimate interests’. This means it lets us carry out our aims and goals as an organisation when we give you support.
What information the Department for Work and Pensions send us
If you were referred to the Help to Claim service by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they’ll tell us the following information about you:
- your first and last name
- your postcode
- your mobile and home phone number
- your email address if you have one
- how you want us to contact you - your local Citizens Advice will always contact you through your chosen method
The DWP are allowed to share some personal information with us because they’re a government department. The legal basis for this is called 'public task'.
What information we ask for
While helping you, we might ask for and process more information from you. If you don't want to give us this 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 to record information about your:
- health conditions
- sexual orientation
- trade union membership
This type of information is known as ‘special category data’. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Tell us the personal information you don’t want us to store and we’ll delete it.
We might need to record special category data about members of your household. This is to help us give you accurate advice. We’ll always make efforts to get consent from the person in your household to store their data.
Sometimes, it might not be appropriate for us to contact that person, for example because of mental capacity or severe illness. In this case, we’ll use the ‘Counselling’ provision of the Data Protection Act as our lawful basis for processing their data.
How we use your information
The main reason we ask for your information is to support you with Universal Credit. We'll only get access to your information for other reasons if we need to - for example:
- for training our staff
- to investigate complaints
- to get feedback from you about our services
- to help us improve our services
- for evaluating our service
- understand the kind of problems people are having with Universal Credit
We’ll always balance our interest against your rights and freedom when we use your personal data.
When we share your information
Sometimes we share your personal information with other organisations. For example, when you need more support and advice about issues like debt or housing. We’ll only do this if you give us your permission.
In rare cases, we might need to share your information without your permission. This is where we might have concerns about your wellbeing or the wellbeing of someone else.
If you've given us your permission, we might contact you to ask for feedback on our service. We might also ask a research company we trust to do this.
If we use an external research company, we’ll only disclose the personal information necessary to deliver the research. We’ll have a contract with the company to make sure your personal information is kept secure and protected.
Storing your information
We store your information securely on our internal systems.
All volunteers and staff who have access to your data have data protection training. This is to make sure your information is handled sensitively and securely.
When we call you, we'll record the phone call to help train our staff and check we’re giving good advice. If you contact us, calls will be recorded and stored securely by our trusted partner, KCOM. Recordings are kept for 6 months and then deleted.
We’ll only keep your information for as long as necessary. In most cases, this will be for 6 years after you’ve accessed our service.
Our case management systems are hosted in the European Economic Area and the UK.
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 information
- to delete your information from our records or withdraw your consent
- to stop using your information
If you want to make a complaint
You can make a complaint through our website if you're not happy with how we've handled your data.
You can also contact the Information Commissioner's Office to raise a concern about how we’ve used your information.