How we use your personal information
At Citizens Advice Hillingdon 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 1998.
You can read more detailed information about how some of our services handle your personal data on our national site:
This page covers how Citizens Advice Hillingdon, as your local charity, handle your information locally in our offices.
Why do Citizens Advice Hillingdon need to collect your information?
Citizens Advice Hillingdon processes personal data relating to our clients in giving advice or information. We will always obtain your consent before collecting your data and will ensure transparency to meet our obligations as a Data Controller, under the data protection regulation.
How Citizens Advice Hillingdon 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 web site. 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 Adviceline
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 Council they’ll send us your information by email, telephone or paper referral form. 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, health conditions, employment status, household status and housing tenure. 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 information Citizens Advice Hillingdon ask for?
We only ask for information that’s relevant to your enquiry. 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 your problems- like utility companies
- 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 enquiry. However, this may limit the advice we can provide.
How Citizens Advice Hillingdon will use your information?
The main reason we ask for your information is to help solve your problem. We may access your information for other reasons if we need to, for example:
- For training and quality purposes
- To investigate complaints
- To help us improve our services
All staff & volunteers accessing data have had data protection training to make sure your personal information is handled safely and securely.
Working on your behalf
When you give us authority to act on your behalf, for example to help you with a benefits issue, we’ll need to share information with Department of Work & Pensions (third party).
We commonly share information with the Department for Work and Pensions, Hillingdon Council, Debt Free London (Toynbee Hall), Money Advice Service, local housing associations, and charities offering grants, banks, building societies and organisations that you may owe money to.
How Citizens Advice Hillingdon store your information?
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone, or by email our staff will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your enquiry in paper files and into our secure case management systems.
Some of your information might also be kept within our 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.
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.
Citizens Advice Hillingdon is an independent charity, and a member of the national Citizens Advice. The Citizens Advice membership agreement also requires that use of your information complies with data protection law.
How Citizens Advice Hillingdon share 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.
We share your information with your consent to refer you to specialist advice providers such as solicitor firms working in partnership with us.
We will share your information by post, telephone and by e-mail with password protected documents where applicable.
We will share anonymous information about people we assist in the form of statistics and case-studies with our funders 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 a need for change.
Who’s responsible for looking after your personal information?
The national Citizens Advice charity and Citizens Advice Hillingdon 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.