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 Wigan Borough collect your data
Video conferencing platforms, social media and telephone (not Adviceline)
In addition to the access methods within the national policy, if you access our advice by video conferencing platforms (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Attend Anywhere), or via social media or telephone (not Adviceline) 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. 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.
We'll get your permission by asking you to either:
- tick a box online or confirm you are happy to proceed (email and social media)
- give agreement over the phone - if you call our Adviceline, Consumer Service, Debt Advice Project or Extra Help Unit.
Before we ask for your permission, we'll always explain how we use your information. If you're using our Debt Advice Project and you've been referred to us from another advice charity, they'll send us your information using a referral form. They'll get your permission before sending us your information.
What information we 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 we 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.
What Citizens Advice Wigan Borough asks for
How Citizens Advice Wigan Borough 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, or challenging a decision we'll need to share information with that third party.
This could include for example, the Department of Work and Pensions, Wigan Council, Jobcentre Plus, local housing providers or other voluntary sector organisations.
How Citizens Advice Wigan Borough stores your information
We will store the record of your case in a secure case management system, which is only accessed by us. We also use other storage systems to store limited electronic data (such as emails and scanned documents). These include, cloud storage and a physical server which is password protected and locked in a secure room. Data on the server is backed up daily to the cloud which is managed by an ISO27001 compliant company and encrypted prior to being transmitted to UK vaults.
Paper copies of your information may also be stored securely and accessed by staff and volunteers of the Citizens Advice Service. Archived documents are stored by a nationally recognised Company also used by Government departments, held at a secure off-site location and only accessed by security cleared staff of the storage company.
We may also use Refernet to make referrals to other local organisations on your behalf. The data is stored on the Refernet server in the UK. The entire data centre is built to TIA Tier 3 guidelines. The data centre is accredited with ISO27001 (a copy of the certificate is available upon request) & SSAE16 approvals. The service uses https via an SSL 2048 bit encryption end to end to ensure that any access to and from the system is as secure as it can be. Your information is only passed to other organisations with your permission, for the purposes of assisting you to get the help you need.
How Citizens Advice Wigan Borough shares your information
We won't share your personal information without your permission, unless we're required to by law.
We may refer you to another advice provider and share personal information with those advice providers so that they have initial information to help you further with your issue. Everything you've told us will be treated confidentially by them.
Sometimes we will refer you to another organisation for specialist advice. We can help get you an appointment and we will pass on the information you've already provided so you don't need to do it again.
We might ask another organisation or another part of Citizens Advice service to contact you, so we can find out if you were satisfied with the service you received and more about your experience of Citizens Advice. To do this we will need to share your contact details.
Sometimes we also share information about how you contacted Citizens Advice, what the topic of your visit was, what the level of support you received, and what country you are in. We do this to make sure we hear from different groups of clients and we only share what is absolutely necessary.
If you’ve given us permission to share your details with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) for satisfaction monitoring, they, or an agency appointed by them, might contact you by phone, email, or letter.
If you’ve given us permission to share your details and case file with the MaPS for quality monitoring, your issue and the advice you received may be reviewed and feedback given to your adviser.
Contact Citizens Advice Wigan Borough about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our Office Manager, Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Telephone: 01942 709709
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 Citizens Advice Wigan Borough operate a system called Casebook to keep your personal information safe. This means we'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.