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 advisers 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 Croydon collects your data
We’ll ask you for information about yourself and your enquiry when you call us, visit us or fill out a form on our email advice website. We'll get your permission to collect and use this information by asking you to either:
- sign a paper consent form
- tick a box online
- give agreement over the phone if you call our advice line
Before we ask for your permission, we'll always explain how we use your information.
If you've been referred to us from another service or organisation such as your Housing Association or the Council or another local charity, they'll send us your information using a referral form (paper or on-line) or by telephoning us. They'll get your permission before sending us your information.
We need to record information about you to help with your enquiry. We have a legitimate interest to do this. We need your explicit consent to collect some information, including your ethnicity, religion, health conditions, sexual orientation, trade union membership and political opinion. If you agree, we’ll use this information, which is known as ‘special category personal data’ to:
● give you advice
● help us gather data to improve our service
● support our research in a way that you can’t be identified
We’ll make sure all your information is kept safe in our secure case management system.
What Citizens Advice Croydon asks for
How Citizens Advice Croydon uses your information
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.
We commonly share information with the Department for Work and Pensions (Job Centre Plus), local housing associations, charities offering grants, Croydon Council, banks, building societies and organisations that you may ask us to negotiate with on your behalf. We will always obtain your signed permission before we do this.
How Citizens Advice Croydon stores your information
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone or by email, our adviser will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your problem into our secure case management systems.
Some of your information might also be kept within our secure email and IT systems. Our IT systems include file servers based at our offices and on Microsoft Office 365 servers. Information entered into our secure email advice website is deleted ten days after your enquiry has been dealt with.
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.
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.
How Citizens Advice Croydon shares your information
As stated above, we need to share information with third parties in order to help you. We’ll ask you to give us your authority to do this and sign a form to state this.
We share your information by post, telephone and by secure e-mail and password protected documents.
We will share anonymous information about people we assist in the form or statistics and case-studies/stories with our funders and commissioners and in reports about our service and the issues we deal with. We take steps to ensure that in case studies the subject of the story cannot be identified.
We may sometimes ask you for your explicit consent for your story and your name to be shared – for instance as part of a campaign to highlight a social policy problem or need for change.
If you’re an L&Q Housing Trust or a Wandle Housing Association tenant and you have been referred to us by the housing association for debt advice, with your explicit consent we will share with L&Q:
- Your name, tenancy reference, gender, age, ethnic origin, number of children, household type and vulnerability status.
- The date you were referred, who referred you and when we first saw you
- Your employment and benefit status, weekly income and rent arrears
- How we helped you including new income/benefits secured, applications to trusts and if we helped you enter into or access a debt management plan, debt relief order or bankruptcy.
Contact Citizens Advice Croydon about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our office.
Citizens Advice Croydon
48-50 Portland Road, South Norwood, SE25 4PQ
020 8684 2236
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.