Privacy and data protection

In order to deal with your problems, and to help us demonstrate the value of our service, we may ask to collect and store personal and sensitive information about you.

When we ask you for personal and/or sensitive information, we promise to:

  • make sure you know why we need it
  • ask only for what we need
  • not collect too much or irrelevant information
  • protect it and make sure nobody has access to it who should not.

We will abide by the law, including the Data Protection Act 1998, when handling this information.  We provide training to staff who handle personal information and respond appropriately if personal information is not used or protected properly.

In return, we ask you to give us accurate information; and tell us as soon as possible anything changes, which may affect the information we hold.

The kind of information we record and use

It is up to you to decide what you share with us.  Some information is personal and  could be used to identify you.  This includes your name, date of birth, address, or phone number.  Some may be sensitive information, such as your ethnic origin, religious beliefs or your physical/mental health or condition.

Giving your consent

We must ask for your consent to record, use, or share personal information.  If you give us your consent you are saying that we can:

  1. Record and use your personal information to help with your issue(s) and case.
  2. Refer you to other advice providers and share your personal information with those advice providers so that they have initial information to help you further with your issue.  Everything you told us will be treated confidentially by them.
  3. To allow your case file to be assessed by an external agency for quality assurance purposes.  Everything you told us will be treated confidentially by them.

You may opt out of any, or all, of these three areas of consent.  This will not affect the service you are offered.

Asking you for consent

How you’re asked for, and how you give, your consent depends on how you use our service:

  • In person, our staff will ask you to give your consent in writing to us recording personal information about you.
  • On the telephone, staff will ask you to give your consent to our service recording personal information about you if you are making an appointment to see one of our advisers.

How we store your information

We store the record of your case in a secure case management system, called AdvicePro, which is only accessed by us.   AdvicePro data is securely stored in the UK within a robust, secure operations centre compliant with Information Security Code of Practice ISO27001, and automatically backed up daily.

How we might share your personal information

First and foremost your information will be used to help with your case.  We won’t share your personal information without your permission, unless we’re required to do so by law.

We also use unnamed information (with no personal details) to help us understand how different problems are affecting people in our community and to report to our funders on our activities.

Where you’ve given us permission and your contact details, we might get in touch to ask for feedback on the service you received and your overall experience of our service.

If you’ve given us permission to share your details and case file for quality monitoring, your issue and the advice you received may be reviewed and feedback given to your adviser.

Sharing information with other organisations

Sometimes we’ll refer you to another organisation for specialist advice.  We can help get you an appointment and we’ll pass on the information you’ve already provided so you don’t need to do it again.

We will ensure that if your information is shared with another organisation, this is only done with your permission.  We will use the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) Data Sharing Code of Practice when we share information to ensure the other organisation treats your information with the same level of care as us.

Please be assured that we do not sell personal information about clients to commercial organisations under any circumstances.

Giving consent without using your real name

You can give consent without using your real name, but we can’t advise you unless we create an unnamed record of your case, which we need for quality assurance purposes.  Other personal information might be recorded if you choose to give it to us. Choosing not to use your real name will not affect the level of service or advice you receive, and we’ll never try and identify you if you’re an unnamed client.

How to withdraw your consent or complain

If you’ve changed your mind about consent you’ve already given, please contact us by telephone (024 7652 1100) or email info@covadvice.org.uk.  You may also ask for your personal data to be erased.

If you’re unhappy with how we hold your data, please contact us or you can follow our complaints procedure.

More information

For more information about data protection and your rights, please visit the Information Commissioners Office website.